US President Barack Obama on Tuesday urged his Turkish counterpart to mend fences with Russia, even as he stressed the need to move forward with action against the common threat of the Islamic State fighters.
Obama met Tayyip Erdogan in Paris, on the sidelines of the climate summit, a week after Turkish jets downed a Russian warplane along the Syrian border and Russia retaliated with economic sanctions on Turkey.
The president assured US support for the NATO ally's security, but stressed that the Islamic State militant group was the enemy that all sides needed to focus on.
"The United States supports Turkey's right to defend itself and its air space ... We discussed how Turkey and Russia can work together to de-escalate tensions" and find a diplomatic path to resolve the issue," Obama said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, on the other hand, refused to meet the Turkish leader after the shooting down of a Russian military jet. He also accused Ankara of shooting down the Russian Su-24 warplane to protect supplies of oil from the IS group to Turkey, according to the Dawn.
Erdogan asserted that his nation wasn't so dishonest as to do indulge in exchanges with terrorist groups. Following Putin's allegations that Turkey traded oil with the militant Islamic State group, Erdogan made a strong statement saying he would quit office if the allegations were proven.
Putin, however, continued to impose a raft of punitive economic sanctions against Turkey, underlining the depth of the Kremlin's anger towards Ankara four days after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane.
On the sidelines of the Paris COP 21, President Erdogan said that if the allegations were proved, the "nobility of our nation would require that I would not stay in office". He also challenged Putin to prove his allegations. "And I tell Mr Putin 'would you stay in that office?' I say this clearly," he said.
After the Su-24 bomber was downed on the Syrian border last week, Putin accused the Turks of being "accomplices of terrorists" and said oil from IS territory was being exported through Turkey.
Turkish policy had initially turned a blind eye to efforts by the Islamic State to consolidate its strength across the border. Ankara was reluctant to get involved in direct military action against the militants, despite ISIS links to a series of attacks on Turkish soil - in Reyhanli, Istanbul and Diyarbakir. This stance was criticized both at home and abroad.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, meanwhile, called earlier today for the opening of communication channels between Turkey and Russia to prevent further incidents like the downing of the warplane.
Erdogan said today following the meeting with Obama that the two had discussed Turkish-Russian tensions.
"Our concern is to not come out badly from this, but on the contrary to turn this into peace and contribute to the peace in the region," Erdogan said.