President Joe Biden’s trip to the annual NATO summit is moving right along without any major mishaps or faux pas. That’s not to say there hasn’t been a few awkward moments here or there.
For instance, President Biden caught the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan off guard when he approached the leader from a blind spot and offered him an awkward fist-bump.
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.
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.
— Turkish Presidency (@trpresidency) June 14, 2021
Last year, the president called on Erodgan to reverse his decision to turn the Hagia Sophia, a former Christian church, from a museum into a mosque. Then, in April, Biden recognized the World War I slaughter of Armenians by Turks and Kurds as a genocide which angered the Turkish leader.
Before the NATO summit, Erdogan made it clear that he would be confronting Biden over his remarks on the Armenian genocide, saying the designation “disturbed and upset” the people of Turkey.