By Daniel Strauss - 08/06/12 01:52 PM EDT
Politicians in Turkey are expressing anger over a picture taken of President Obama in which he's holding a baseball bat while talking on the phone with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
"The photo reveals from whom our prime minister receives orders to rule the country," Metin Lutfi Baydar, a member of the opposition Republican People's Party, said according to Reuters on Friday.
The photo was taken last Monday during a phone call between Obama and Erdogan where they discussed Syria.
Another lawmaker, Umut Oran, vice president of the Republican's People's Party, said the photo is an "implicit insult to Turkey and its citizens."
But Erdogan himself defended the photo, calling Obama "a friend who never falls short of respect or politeness," according to The Associated Press.
On Friday, White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement that the photo was released to emphasize the strong relationship between Turkey and the United States.
"We released the photo with only one purpose in mind, to highlight the president's continuing close relationship with Prime Minister Erdogan and draw attention to the important conversation they had about the worsening situation in Syria," Hayeden said.
The bat, as it happens, was autographed by baseball star Henry Aaron.
See the photo below: