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Kerry, Lavrov speak by phone about Russia plane shootdown

26 november 2015, 14:38

Secretary of State John Kerry spoke by phone with Russia's foreign minister and urged a de-escalation of tensions after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane near the Turkey-Syria border, US officials said Wednesday, AFP reports.

In his call with Sergei Lavrov, the secretary offered his condolences for the loss of life in the downing, the State Department said in a brief statement.

"He urged for calm and for dialogue between Turkish and Russian officials in the days ahead. He also stressed the need for both sides not to allow this incident to escalate tensions between their two countries or in Syria," the statement added.

Moscow said Russian and Syrian special forces rescued one of the two pilots who ejected from the plane, but confirmed that the second airman and a soldier sent to rescue him died.

Russia has accused NATO member Turkey of a "planned provocation" over the downing of the aircraft, which has seen tensions spike in the already volatile region, where the United States is also flying bombing runs against Islamic State targets.

"The secretary underscored the importance of progress toward a diplomatic solution in Syria continuing unabated," the State Department added.

Kerry embarks on a European tour next Monday. He heads first to Paris, site of the deadly November 13 attacks, for a United Nations climate summit before heading to a NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels where the Syrian crisis is sure to be on the agenda.

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