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A child protests World War I-era Armenian genocide outside the Turkish ambassador's residence in Washington on Saturday. Photo: Samuel Corum/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden has repeatedly telegraphed tough decisions with earlier announcements designed to cushion the blow.

Driving the news: On Friday, the White House announced a generic call with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey. Less than 24 hours later, the president issued a statement labeling a World War I Armenian massacre "genocide," angering the Turks.

  • Several weeks ago, Biden released a slate of career foreign service officers he was nominating to be U.S. ambassadors.
  • The president will soon announce a series of friends and donors to marquee diplomatic jobs, a traditional source of friction between political appointees and careerists at the State Department.
  • On April 14, Biden also announced his new liaison to the Asian American Pacific Islander community just before he sat down with a group of AAPI lawmakers — including two who had demanded just such an appointment.

Why it matters: Good policy stems from good politics, and Biden prides himself on being a gentleman. But the two-step also reveals what bettors would call a presidential "tell."

  • Biden previously telegraphed future headlines with calls to Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Axios' Hans Nichols notes.
  • He called Salman on Feb. 25, a day before declassifying an intelligence report saying the king's son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, had approved an operation to "capture or kill" Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.
  • Nichols scooped the president with news of the call.
  • The president also called Putin two days before announcing sanctions against Russian officials for cyberattacks against the U.S. and its interests.

A brutal military campaign launched by the Ottoman Empire in April 1915 resulted in the deaths of 1.5 million people. The Turkish government has long resisted the label "genocide," saying the deaths were typical of warfare.

Two statements illustrated Biden's communications — and diplomatic — approach.

  • At 2 p.m. Friday, as the workweek wound down, the White House announced his call with Erdoğan.
  • The generic readout said the president conveyed "his interest in a constructive bilateral relationship with expanded areas of cooperation and effective management of disagreements."
  • It also announced the two leaders would meet during a NATO summit in June "to discuss the full range of bilateral and regional issues."

At noon Saturday, the White House released a statement recognizing the anniversary in Armenia and branding the deaths genocide.

  • "We do this not to cast blame but to ensure that what happened is never repeated," said the president's statement.
  • The Turkish government responded by summoning the U.S. ambassador to Turkey, David Satterfield, for a meeting with its foreign minister in the capital of Ankara.

The bottom line: As with a presidential campaign, a schedule provides insight not just into current activities but future strategy.

Go deeper

Apr 24, 2021 - World

Turkey summons U.S. ambassador over Armenian genocide recognition

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Photo: Adem Altan/AFP via Getty Images

Turkey's foreign ministry summoned the U.S. ambassador to Ankara over President Biden's recognition of the Armenian genocide, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Driving the news: Biden on Saturday said the systemic killing and deportation of Armenians by Ottoman Turkish forces in the early 20th century constituted an act of genocide, angering Turkey who rejected the declaration.

Biden formally recognizes atrocities against Armenians as genocide

President Biden speaking in the White House on April 23. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden on Saturday formally recognized the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turkish forces as an act of genocide.

Why it matters: The unprecedented designation, which comes on Armenian Remembrance Day, will likely infuriate Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has previously warned a genocide declaration would harm U.S.-Turkey relations.

Armenian prime minister praises Biden for recognizing genocide

Nikol Pashinyan speaking at a forum in Yerevan, Armenia, in 2019. Photo: Victor Boyko/Getty Images

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan praised President Biden on Saturday for formally recognizing the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turkish forces in 1915 as an act of genocide, saying the move "reaffirms the supremacy of human rights," according to AP.

Why it matters: The unprecedented designation — which has been largely avoided by previous administrations over fears of straining relations with Turkey — and Pashinyan's response come on Armenian Remembrance Day.