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Erdogan apologises to Putin over death of Russian pilot

Moscow, June 27: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday received a letter in which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has apologised for the death of the Russian pilot who was killed when a Russian jet was downed over the Syrian-Turkish border last November, the Kremlin said. Erdogan expressed readiness to restore relations with Moscow, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. The incident involving the downing of the Russian Su-24 bomber led to the worst deterioration of Turkish-Russian relations in recent history, with Russia describing it as a “stab in the back”. “The head of the Turkish state expressed his deep sympathy and condolences to the relatives of the deceased Russian pilot and said ‘sorry’,” Peskov said. In his letter, Erdogan called Russia “a friend and a strategic partner” of Ankara, with whom the Turkish authorities would not want to spoil relations.

“We never had a desire or a deliberate intention to down an aircraft belonging to Russia,” the letter read, according to a statement published on the Kremlin website.

According to the statement, Erdogan’s letter stressed that “the Turkish side undertook all the risks and made a great effort to recover the body of the Russian pilot from the Syrian opposition, bringing it to Turkey. The organization of the pre-burial procedures was conducted in accordance with all religious and military procedures”. (ians)