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Turkey: Russia distracting from its own mistake

The leaders of Turkey and the US have talked in Paris on how to resolve tensions with Russia diplomatically. The Turkish PM accused Moscow of making allegations to distract from its own wrongdoing.

Turkey's President Recip Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that his nation wanted to avoid tensions with Russia, while also denying Moscow's claims that Ankara funds "Islamic State" (IS) terrorism by buying oil from the jihadist group.

After speaking with Erdogan on the sidelines of the Paris climate talks, US President Barack Obama urged both nations to focus on their "common enemy," IS.

"We discussed how Turkey and Russia can work together to de-escalate tensions" and find a diplomatic way to resolve the situation," Obama said of his talk with Erdogan.

At the same time, Obama said Turkey had a right to defend itself.

Damaged ties

Turkey has repeatedly maintained that the November 24 downing of a Russian warplane, which left one pilot dead, was a defensive reaction to a violation of Turkish airspace.

Russia fired back with economic sanctions against Turkish goods, cancellation of its visa-waiver program for Turkish citizens and accusations that the incident was

the result of Turkey's wish to protect its oil trade with IS.

Russian President Vladimir Putin also snubbed Erdogan's invitation to talk in Paris.

Erdogan said he was still "determined to keep up the fight" against IS, not Moscow, while at the same time challenging the Kremlin to provide evidence of its allegations.

Karte Türkei Syrien Türkei schießt russischen Kampfjet ab Englisch

With so many different forces acting in the region, many nations have urged a broader anti-IS coalition to prevent similar incidents

'Baseless accusations'

In Ankara, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu urged Russia to re-open the lines of communication. "We should sit at the table and discuss what to do instead of making baseless accusations," he told the press.

"Russian authorities should know it was not Turkish jets that violated Russian air space," Davutoglu said, adding that "when there is a war taking place on our doorstep and refugees are pouring into Turkey, it would not be responsible behavior to ignore airspace incursions."

Despite strongly opposing the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Turkey was initially reluctant to enter the fight against him and IS militants. Now, however, Turkey has not only joined the US-led coalition launching air strikes in Syria, but has backed a call for Russia to stop bombing moderate Syrian rebels opposed to Moscow-ally Assad.

es/tj (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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