YEREVAN -- The U.S. Embassy in Armenia has issued a statement about an online video in which U.S. Vice President Joe Biden says Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian told him not to "force" the issue of the Armenian genocide during Turkish-Armenian reconciliation negotiations, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.
The Biden video, posted on YouTube on October 26 and picked up by Armenian media, shows Biden speaking to an Armenian-American community activist who asks him for a message from President Barack Obama's administration on Obama's campaign pledge to recognize the mass killing of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire from 1915-19 as genocide.
Biden tells the activist to "tell [the Armenian-American community] that it was the Armenian president that called me and said, 'Look, do not force this issue now, while we're in negotiations [with Turkey on reconciliation].'"
In a statement late on October 29, the U.S. Embassy in Yerevan said Sarkisian "did not raise the issue of the content of President Obama's statement for Armenian Remembrance Day or seek a delay in consideration of House Resolution 252 [calling for the affirmation of the Armenian genocide]."
"Instead, the discussions between Vice President Biden and President Sarkisian that were recently referenced by [Biden] were about the need to take immediate steps to improve Armenian-Turkish relations," the statement said. "The two leaders agreed that there should be no preconditions to normalizing relations between Armenia and Turkey."
The U.S. Embassy in Armenia said Biden and Sarkisian spoke twice in April 2009.
"In these calls, [Biden] told President Sarkisian the United States believes that the normalization of relations with Turkey and the opening of borders would provide a path to a better future for Armenia and expressed the support of the United States for his leadership. The vice president expressed the Obama administration's support for a Swiss proposal for a joint Armenia-Turkish statement on progress made toward normalizing relations."
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."
Arzumanian added that Sarkisian's administration would consent to publishing the records of the telephone conversations between Biden and Sarkisian.