Russia’s top diplomat agrees to meet with Turk counterpart
NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) – Russia’s foreign minister said Wednesday that he would agree to meet with his Turkish counterpart this week to hear Turkey’s explanations on the downing of a Russian air force jet.
Sergey Lavrov said he will meet Mevlut Cavusoglu on the sidelines of an Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe meeting of foreign ministers in Belgrade, the Serbian capital.
“We will meet with the Turkish minister of foreign affairs, we will hear what he has to say,” Lavrov said after talks with his Cypriot counterpart. He added that Turkey had consistently asked to arrange such a meeting.
Lavrov said he spoke to Cavusoglu by telephone the day after the Russian aircraft was shot down, but heard only what Turkey had already stated publicly and “just some excuses.”
The meeting could offer a way to de-escalate a growing crisis between Russia and Turkey.
Turkey insists the Russian plane violated its airspace despite numerous warnings and has said it won’t apologize for the incident that killed a Russian pilot and a Russian marine trying to retrieve a second pilot.
Russia has claimed that Turkey shot down its plane to protect what President Vladimir Putin has described as Turkish profiteering from the oil trade with the Islamic State group.
Lavrov said his country’s aim is to ensure that it doesn’t allow the “overflow” of terrorist threats in Turkey from making their way into Russia.
Russia has imposed sanctions against Turkish products in retaliation for the downing of its aircraft. Lavrov called the sanctions “adequate,” adding that “most observers” agree.