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Putin informed of Turkish president's wish to meet with him — Kremlin

Russian President Vladimir Putin has been told about the intention of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to meet with him, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Monday.

"Putin was informed of this wish of the president [of Turkey Erdogan]," Peskov said giving no further details on the Russian president's reaction to the Turkish leader's proposal.

Erdogan told reporters on Saturday that he wanted to meet with Putin to discuss the alleged violation of Turkey's airspace by a Russian warplane. "If such violations aimed at Turkey's sovereignty continue, then (Russia) will have to bear responsibility for the consequences. As the violated airspace is also NATO airspace, the alliance is also following the situation," Erdogan said.

"There is no use from such irresponsible steps for Russia or Russia-NATO relations or peace in the region. It was openly said to the Russian ambassador summoned to our Foreign Ministry yesterday," he said.

Erdogan added that he asked Turkey's Foreign Ministry to request a meeting with Putin.

Kremlin proceeds from assumption Russian plane did not violate Turkish border

According to the press secretary, the Kremlin proceeds from the assumption that Russian planes did not violate Turkish air space.

"We proceed from the information declared by our Defense Ministry. Let me remind you that Defense Ministry officials dismissed Turkish claims there had been a violation of Turkish airspace by one of our planes," presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. "This is what we proceed from."

On January 30 the Turkish Foreign Ministry alleged that a Russian military plane, a Sukhoi Su-34, violated the Turkish border. The incident reportedly occurred on January 29, 2016. According to the statement Turkish radars repeatedly warned the Russian plane's pilot in both Russian and in English before the alleged violation.

The Russian ambassador was summoned to the Foreign Ministry to hear a strong protest.

The Russian Defense Ministry denied Ankara's claims a Sukhoi-34 plane of the Russian air group in Syria had ventured into Turkish airspace. Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov dismissed the allegations as groundless propaganda.

"There have been no violations of Turkish airspace by any of the planes of the Russian air group in Syria. Turkey's claims about alleged intrusion into its airspace by a Sukhoi-34 plane are groundless propaganda," Konashenkov said.

Previous incidents near the border between Syria and Turkey

Russia's Aerospace Force started delivering strikes in Syria at facilities of the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist groups (both banned in Russia) on September 30, 2015. The air group initially comprised over 50 aircraft and helicopters, including Sukhoi Su-24M, Su-25SM and state-of-the-art Su-34 aircraft but then was reinforced. On November 24, a Turkish F-16 fighter brought down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24M bomber involved in Moscow's military operation. Ankara claimed the warplane violated the Turkey's airspace.

The Russian Defense Ministry said the warplane was flying over Syrian territory without violating Turkey's airspace. The Russian president referred to the attack as a "stab in Russia's back" and promised that the move would cause response action from Russia. Moscow deployed new S-400 air defense systems in Syria in order to protect the warplanes involved in the military operation and started arming the fighters intended to provide air support to bombers and attack aircraft in Syria with air-to-air missiles.

[Source: Itar Tass, Moscow, 01Feb16]

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