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Calm tensions, Turkey's Davutoglu tells Russia

Turkey has delivered soft and hard comments over Moscow's demand that Turkey apologize for downing a Russian plane. Turkey's premier says Ankara wants to "calm tensions." President Erdogan says Russia should apologize.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu wrote in Britain's Times newspaper on Friday that Ankara would "work with Russia and our allies to calm tensions" in the wake of

Tuesday's downing of a Russian Su-24 bomber.

"The necessary discussions are now taking place," Davutoglu wrote after chairing a meeting on Thursday of Turkey's High Military Council and a flurry of diplomacy within the Western alliance NATO of which Turkey is a member.

A Turkish statement issued after that meeting said the militaries of Turkey and Russia should take all measures possible to avoid new "undesired" incidents on the Turkish-Syrian border.

Turkey claims the Su-24 briefly violated its airspace despite repeated warnings - a claim Russia denies. One of the plane's two pilots died, apparently from Syrian rebel gunfire when he ejected. The other pilot survived.

President Erdogan told the broadcaster CNN International that Turkey was not the side to apologize.

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Trade a casualty of Russia-Turkey tensions

"The ones who violated our airspace are the ones who need to apologize," he said, reiterating Turkey's allegation that Russia had entered Turkey.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said still awaiting a Turkish apology and assurances that the "culprits of the crime" would be punished.

During a speech in Ankara, Erdogan said the downing was an "automatic reaction" to a breach of Turkish airspace, in line with standard orders given to the military.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Russia might impose restrictions on food imports from Turkey within days. And, the Russian tourism agency, Rostourism, ruled out Turkey as a recommended destination.

Russians have been second only to Germans in visiting Turkey, bringing billions a year in revenues needed to plug a gaping current account deficit.

ipj/kms (AP, Reuters)

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