Iran calls on Turkey and Syria for ′restraint′ over downed jet | News | DW | 24.06.2012
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Iran calls on Turkey and Syria for 'restraint' over downed jet

Iran has called for restraint and tolerance after a Syrian anti-aircraft battery shot down a Turkish warplane over coastal Mediterranean waters.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi telephoned his Turkish counterpart, Ahmet Davutoglu, to urge "both sides to show calm and restraint," Iran's foreign ministry said.

The plea contrasts with harsh Iranian rhetoric recently toward Israel and Western sanctions over Iran's controversial nuclear program.

Salehi said Iran hoped that "with tact and tolerance and dialogue" the downing of the Turkish plane would be evaluated.

"Through a peaceful solution, tranquility and stability will be preserved in the region," Salehi added.

Iran has backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his regime during 15 months of anti-government protest and conflict which rights activists estimate has cost 14,000 lives, mostly civilians.

Turkey, a NATO member and one-time ally of Syria, has increasingly condemned the crackdown by Assad's forces, while allowing 32,000 Syrian refugees as well as Free Syrian Army rebels to take shelter inside Turkey.

Davutoglu told Turkey's TRT Haber news channel on Sunday that the F4 Phantom fighter was unarmed and on a training mission within international airspace when it was hit 21 kilometers (13 miles) from the Syrian coast.

"It was not involved in any operation against Syria. It was not carrying weapons," Davutoglu said.

Syria's military initially said its air defenses shot at an "unidentified aerial target" that was flying "very low" and at "high speed" within Syrian airspace, just one kilometer off Syria's Latakia region coastline.

In Brussels, a NATO spokeswomen said Turkey would consult with members of the Western military alliance on Tuesday and present details of the incident.

A United Nations spokesman said UN chief Ban Ki-moon had also telephoned Davutoglu to express "deep concern" about the potential serious implications of the downing for the region.

Ban had urged both sides to continue to address the situation diplomatically, said UN spokesman Martin Nesirky.

On Saturday, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said he was "greatly worried" by Friday's downing. He urged a thorough investigation and said he welcomed Turkey's cool-headed reaction in the immediate aftermath.

ipj/ncy (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)