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Westerwelle calls for restraint from Turkey and Syria

Germany's foreign minister has urged both Syria and Turkey to stay calm as tensions flare on their common border. Guido Westerwelle will make an unscheduled stop in Istanbul to make his case in person.

Following the forced landing of a passenger plane heading to Damascus from Moscow, Westerwelle has appealed for caution from all sides.

"We must carefully make sure that we don't fall into a spiral of escalation here - the conclusion of which would be a conflagration that could engulf the entire region," Westerwelle said in Beijing on Friday.

Guido Westerwelle delivering a speech (Photo: dapd)

Westerwelle will visit Turkey on Saturday to try to cool the waters

Following his three days in China, Westerwelle announced plans to make an unscheduled stopover in Istanbul on his way back to Germany. There, he will meet with his Turkish counterpart, Ahmet Davutoglu.

The forced landing of a Syrian passenger plane in the Turkish capital, Ankara, on Wednesday, with the jet escorted down by fighter jets, has prompted mutual criticism from Turkey, Syria and Russia. The Turkish government has said that military equipment was on board the plane, a claim contested by Russia and Syria.

"It's unacceptable that weapons are being delivered to the Syrian regime," Westerwelle said, though he added that Turkey should avoid any excessive "provocations." The German foreign minister concluded that "nobody should now throw fuel on the fire and escalate the situation."

Turkish media reports on Friday suggested that more troops were being moved toward the Syrian border. Syrian shells landing in Turkey prompted some retaliatory fire on several occasions over the last 10 days.

Turkey, a NATO member, has been among the most vocal critics of the Syrian regime since the start of the civil unrest early in 2011. The British-based Syrian Obseratory for Human Rights estimates that more than 30,000 people have been killed in the fighting.

msh/mkg (AFP, dapd, dpa)