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Iran Press TV

Ankara apologizes to Moscow over downing Russian jet

Iran Press TV

Mon Jun 27, 2016 3:10PM

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has apologized to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin over Ankara's shooting down of a Russia's military jet last year which shattered ties between the two countries.

In a statement released on Monday, Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said Putin had received a letter from Erdogan "in which the Turkish leader expressed his desire to resolve the situation connected to the downing of a Russian military aircraft."

"The head of the Turkish state in his message expressed his sympathy and deepest condolences to the family of the dead Russian pilot and said sorry," Peskov added.

Erdogan said he wanted to do "everything possible for the restoration of the traditionally friendly relations between Turkey and Russia," according to the Kremlin statement.

Erdogan's spokesman confirmed the Turkish president had sent the letter.

"The president also called on his Russian counterpart to restore the traditional friendly relations between Turkey and Russia, work together to address regional crises and jointly combat terrorism," Ibrahim Kalin said in a statement.

He added, "Turkey and Russia have agreed to take necessary steps without delay to improve bilateral relations."

Moscow-Ankara ties strained last November after Turkey shot down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24 aircraft with two pilots aboard, claiming the fighter jet had repeatedly violated the Turkish airspace.

Ankara had argued that the Russian plane strayed into its airspace and ignored repeated warnings, but Russia insisted it did not cross the border and accused Ankara of a "planned provocation."

Moscow said the plane was brought down in Syrian airspace, where Russia has been conducting combat sorties against Takfiri terrorists since late September 2015 upon a request by the Damascus government.

Of the two pilots aboard the warplane, one was rescued with the help of the Syrian army, but the other was killed by militants fighting the Syrian government.

Following the incident, Russia imposed a raft of sanctions on Ankara, including import restriction on Turkish foods, a ban on tourist travel to Turkey, an embargo on hiring Turkish citizens in Russia and an embargo on Turkish organizations' activities in Russia.

Russia also suspended all military deals with Turkey.

Putin had said sanctions would not be lifted unless Erdogan apologized over the incident.

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