In a move that could sour relations between US and Turkey, US President Joe Biden recognised mass killing against Armenians more than a century ago as a “genocide”.

Biden said in a statement issued by the White House that “the American people honor all those Armenians who perished in the genocide that began 106 years ago today.”

“We do this not to cast blame but to ensure that what happened is never repeated,” The statement further read.

This is a first time that a US Presuident has termed the mass killing of Armenian people by the Ottoman Empire as genocide”. Biden’s predecessors had refrained from using the term ‘genocide’ in order to maintain good diplomatic relations with Turkey.

US media reported that Biden informed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of his “genocide” recognition plan in their phone call on Friday. The White House informed that Biden told Erdogan that he wanted to build a constructive bilateral relationship “with expanded areas of cooperation and effective management of disagreements.”

In 2019, both chambers of Congress passed resolutions recognizing the atrocities as “genocide.”

Earlier this week, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told local media that Biden’s statements were not legal-binding and would only harm bilateral relations.

“If the United States wants to worsen ties, the decision is theirs,” he said.

Armenians have long sought international recognition for the large-scale casualties during the Ottoman era as genocide, which they say left some 1.5 million of their people dead. Turkey, the Ottoman Empire’s successor state, has claimed the mass killings did not constitute genocide.

(With IANS inputs)