US Vice President Joe Biden.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
US Vice President Joe Biden apologized to President Tayyip Erdogan Saturday for comments he made over the weekend regarding Turkey's alleged role in the three-and-a-half year old civil war in Syria.
Erdogan demanded an apology after Biden said the Turkish president admitted that Turkey was wrong for allowing foreign fighters to cross the border into Syria to fight with the rebels against President Bashar Assad.
In a speech at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government on Thursday, Biden talked about foreign policy, namely the US-led military coalition against Islamic State, which now involves Sunni nations, such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey.
"President Erdogan told me – he's an old friend – that 'you were right, we let too many people through,'" Biden told students during a Q&A session after his talk. "Now, they are trying to seal their border."
While the remarks were noted as an accomplishment in the fight against regional jihadism – thousands of miles away, they were registered with anger. Erdogan denied ever admitting to erring and demanded the vice president apologize "if he made such remarks." Speaking to reporters in Istanbul he said that if indeed "Biden has used such expressions he will be history for me."
The press conference prompted Biden to phone Erdogan to formally apologize for the comments, according to a White House statement. Reuters contributed to this report.