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Armenian President's Office Denies Biden Comment On Genocide Recognition

Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian reportedly spoke to Biden in 2009
Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian reportedly spoke to Biden in 2009
YEREVAN -- A spokesman for Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian has denied that Sarkisian asked U.S. Vice President Joe Biden not to "force" the issue of Armenian genocide while negotiations on the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations were in progress, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

A video was posted on YouTube on October 27 that shows Biden speaking to a man who says he is an Armenian-American community activist.

He asks Biden what message from the administration of President Barack Obama "we should be giving to our community" on the mass killing of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire from 1915-19 and its recognition by Washington as a genocide against Armenians. Biden responds: "What you should be giving to your community is that we are not backing off. The Turks have to come to the realization of what the reality is."

He adds: "And what we've got to do is, you know, the compromise that was going on and being worked at for a while. ... Tell [the Armenian-American community] that it was the Armenian president that called me and said, 'Look, do not force this issue [of genocide recognition] now, while we're in negotiations [with Turkey on reconciliation].' We passed. That's past right now. So anyway, reality has a way of intruding."

Sarkisian's press secretary, Armen Arzumanian, issued a statement on October 27 saying that Sarkisian "has never called United States Vice President Joe Biden. It was at [Biden's] initiative that two telephone conversations took place in 2009 and during those conversations the [Armenian] president did not, directly or indirectly, make the expression that is ascribed to him on the video."

The video was later picked up by a number of media outlets within the Armenian diaspora and in Armenia as well.

Arzumanian added that Sarkisian's administration would officially give its consent to publishing a record of the telephone conversations between Biden and Sarkisian.

Calls to Biden's office seeking comment were not returned.