White House defends Biden after Middle East gaffes

WASHINGTON, US- The White House Monday praised Vice President Joe Biden for being big enough to admit his mistakes, after he apologized to two key allies over an embarrassing diplomatic gaffe on the Middle East.
Biden called leaders in the two states, key members of the US coalition taking on the Islamic State group, after he was quoted as saying that they had financed and armed the Sunni jihadists.

Biden's comments caused consternation in the Middle East and questions in Washington as to whether they would dampen the resolve of US allies who have signed up to fight IS.
Biden's office released a statement following his call to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey on Saturday and he also apologized in person to Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahayan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and deputy head of the armed forces.
"What the vice president conveyed was an apology for, as it relates to President Erdogan, mischaracterizing the president’s views in a private conversation," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.
Regarding the Emiratis, Earnest said Biden "was not attempting to imply that the UAE has facilitated or supported ISIL, Al-Qaeda or other extremist groups in Syria.
Earnest said that despite his comments, the latest in a string of verbal gaffes, at Harvard University on Thursday, the vice president remained a core member of President Barack Obama's national security team.
"I think the vice president is somebody who has enough character to admit when he's made a mistake," Earnest said.
Erdogan said that if Biden had used such language "that would make him a man of the past for me."
The UAE had described Biden's remarks as "amazing" and said they ignored the role of the Emirates in the fight against extremism and terrorism.
In his comments, Biden referred to Turkey, Erdogan, Saudi Arabia and the Emiratis as friends.
But he said they been so determined to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that they had "poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tonnes of weapons into anyone who would fight against" him.
"Except the people being supplied were Al-Nusra and Al-Qaeda and extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world," Biden said.

Tuesday, October 7th 2014

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