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Foreign ministers of Turkey, Russia meet to defuse crisis

04 December 2015

The foreign ministers of Turkey and Russia met in Belgrade on Thursday in the first high-level bilateral talks since the downing of a Russian warplane by Turkish jets sparked an unprecedented crisis.

"The meeting between the two foreign ministers has begun as scheduled," AFP quoted a Turkish foreign ministry official saying. It did not give further details.

The start of the meeting between Russia's Sergei Lavrov and Turkey's Mevlut Cavusoglu, on the sidelines of the ministerial council of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, was also confirmed by a diplomatic source in Belgrade.

Two Turkish F-16 jets shot down a Russian plane on November 24 which Ankara said violated its airspace. Russia insists that the plane did not cross from Syria and accused Turkey of a deliberate provocation.

The plane incident has plunged the two countries' relationship into a crisis, with Russia demanding an official apology from the Turkish leadership.

Lavrov cancelled a scheduled meeting to Istanbul on 25 November and urged Russian citizens to avoid any travel to Turkey, a top tourist destination for many Russian tourists.

Russian President Vladimir Putin snubbed an offer from Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan for a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the climate summit in Paris early this week.

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