The U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has denied apologizing to Ankara for his statement about Turkey helping the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and other militant groups in Syria, as the White House had previously said.
"I never apologized to [Turkish President Erdogan]," Biden said in an exclusive interview with CNN on Monday. "I know him well. I've dealt with him. I called him and said, 'Look, what was reported was not accurate to what I said. Here's what I said.'"
During a speech at Harvard University on Oct. 2, Biden had said that Turkey and other U.S. allies in the region, such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, had supplied, or facilitated the development of, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, and other groups fighting the Assad regime in Syria.
These comments angered Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who said at the time, "Biden has to apologize for his statements," or become "history to me."
On Oct. 4, the White House released a statement saying, "The Vice President apologized for any implication that Turkey or other Allies and partners in the region had intentionally supplied or facilitated the growth of ISIL or other violent extremists in Syria."
"The vice president made clear that the United States greatly values the commitments and sacrifices made by our Allies and partners from around the world to combat the scourge of ISIL, including Turkey," the statement said.
On Oct. 6, the White House press secretary, Josh Earnest, said, "What the vice president conveyed was an apology for -- as it relates to President Erdogan -- mischaracterizing the President’s views in a private conversation. And that ultimately was the reason for the call."
Biden’s comments to CNN come weeks before a scheduled meeting in Turkish capital Ankara with theErdogan during the week of Nov. 17th.
On Monday, Erdogan openly criticized the U.S. administration for supplying weapons to Kurdish fighters of the Democratic Union Party -- the Syrian affiliate of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK -- in Kobani, which Erdogan calls a terrorist organization.
The Turkish president argued that some of the American weapons had landed in the hands of ISIL militants besieging the Syrian city of Kobani near the Turkish border.