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Obama urges Turkey and Russia to reduce tensions

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Obama urges Turkey and Russia to reduce tensions


A week after Turkey downed a Russian warplane, President Barack Obama has reiterated US support for its NATO ally.

“The United States supports Turkey’s right to defend itself and its airspace and its territory,” he said.

But meeting his Turkish counterpart at climate talks in Paris on Tuesday, Obama also urged the two countries to end their war of words and focus on defeating the common enemy ISIL and bringing about a political resolution in Syria.

Despite the heated exchanges of late, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s preferred option now seems to be de-escalation.

He told reporters he wanted a diplomatic resolution that could contribute to peace.

“The tensions in the region sadden us. It is causing harm to both sides,” Erdogan said.

But as he spoke Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s government was ratifying a raft of economic sanctions against Turkey over the downing of the plane on the Syrian border which left two Russians dead – the pilot and a marine killed in a rescue attempt.

Angry protests have taken place outside the Turkish Embassy in Moscow.

Like President Vladimir Putin, Russian demonstrators reject Turkey’s claims that the warplane had entered its airspace.

Putin claims Turkey shot down the jet because it wanted to protect supplies of oil from ISIL militants.

Erdogan says claims that Turkey buys oil from ISIL are “slander”.

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