President Biden on Monday offered an awkward fist-bump to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Belgium at the annual NATO summit Monday — as the Islamist strongman prepared to blast the U.S. leader for his recent recognition of the Armenian genocide.
Biden, wearing a mask despite being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 for months, approached an unmasked Erdogan, who was seated at a desk, and offered his fist at an angle that caught the Turkish leader off guard.
Erdogan rose to greet Biden, continuing the casual knuckle contact as they spoke.
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Erdogan and Biden later sat down for a more formal meeting. But in a surprise twist, U.S. reporters who were supposed to be in the room were left waiting in a hallway.
Confirmation of the Biden-Erdogan sit-down came through Erdogan’s press office, which tweeted images of Biden and Erdogan bumping wrists and smiling at one another. In one image, Erdogan flashed a thumbs up.
The U.S.-Turkish relationship has been roiled in recent years, including by Erdogan’s militarism in Syria and Libya and his suppression of dissent following an alleged coup attempt in 2016.
In April, Biden recognized as a genocide the World War I slaughter of Armenians by Turks and Kurds, angering the Turkish leader. Last year, Biden called on Erodgan to abandon his decision to turn the Hagia Sophia, a former Christian church, from a museum into a mos
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