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Turkey Says Ready To Cooperate With Russia Against IS

  • RFE/RL

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters later that "I did not make such a comment" regarding any Russian use of the air base.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters later that "I did not make such a comment" regarding any Russian use of the air base.

Turkey has proposed cooperating with Moscow to combat the Islamic State (IS) extremist group in Syria.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on July 4 in Istanbul that "we will cooperate with everyone who fights Daesh," referring to IS by its Arabic-language acronym.

He added that Turkey already cooperates with many countries fighting IS and "we opened Incirlik air base for those who want to join the active fight against Daesh."

The statement was interpreted by some media as indicating Ankara might be willing to open the use of its Incirlik air base in southern Turkey to Russia.

However, Cavusoglu told reporters later that "we said that we could cooperate with Russia in the period ahead in the fight against Daesh [IS]...I did not make any comment referring to Russian planes coming to the Incirlik air base."

The Incirlik air base is already being used by aircraft from the United States, Germany, Britain, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar involved in the U.S.-led air campaign against IS.

The air base is located 8 kilometers north of the Turkish city of Adana near the Syrian border.

Ankara's offer of cooperation over IS comes as Turkey and Russia have pledged to rebuild relations after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last week expressed regret for the death of a Russian pilot after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane in November during a disputed incursion into Turkish territory.

Moscow had broken off virtually all economic ties and banned tourists from visiting Turkish resorts after the downing of the plane, which resulted in one of the pilots being shot dead as he parachuted to the ground over Syria.

Cavusoglu referred indirectly to the recent months of tension over the downing of plane, saying that they offered another reason for Moscow and Ankara to now cooperate.

"Joint efforts are important to avoid negative incidents," he said.

Moscow immediately welcomed Ankara's statement.

"This is certainly a serious statement that has yet to be analyzed from a military and political point of view," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in Moscow on July 4.

Turkey and Russia both oppose IS but are on opposite sides of the Syrian conflict. Ankara supports opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is backed by Russia and Iran.

Russian aircraft make their sorties from Khmeimim air base in Syria's Latakia Province.

With reporting by Reuters and RT
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