White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on March 5 that she does not know about the meeting between President Joe Biden's brother and Turkish businessman Ekim Alptekin from 2019, when asked by a journalist about Duvar English's report on the issue.
Alptekin said on Feb. 25 that he hosted Biden's brother and his wife during a 2019 vacation they took to Turkey. Alptekin was indicted with conspiring with Bijan Rafiekian, a former business partner of General Michael T. Flynn, in 2018 to extradite U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen.
Psaki was also asked during the press conference if Biden plans to make a call to his Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
"It’s interesting that the President, in all his calls to world leaders, has not called President Erdoğan yet. Does he plan to make a call like that, or is he going to operate with backchannels to Ankara?" Psaki was asked.
In response to this question, the White House spokeswoman said that Biden will call Erdoğan “at some point” in the future, without elaborating when this might occur.
"The President has many global leaders — world leaders he still needs to call, and he will venture to do that in the coming weeks and months," she said.
Biden spent the first month of his presidency making routine calls to world leaders, but for Erdoğan the call never came.
Tensions between Biden and Ankara rose in August of 2020 after the former's remarks on backing Turkish opposition.
Biden's comments to New York Times editors, where he advocated a new U.S. approach to "autocrat" Erdoğan and support for opposition parties, resurfaced in a video that made him the most popular topic on Twitter in Turkey on Aug. 15, 2020.
Biden says in the video recorded on Dec. 16 2019 - before he emerged as the Democratic candidate - that he is "very concerned" about Erdoğan's approach to Kurds in Turkey, his partial military cooperation with Russia, and access to U.S. airfields in the country, a NATO ally.
His remarks drew ire at the time, with ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) officials lining up to condemn Biden.