Turkey returning body of Russian pilot

Turkey said Sunday it is returning the body of a pilot who died after parachuting out of a Russian jet that was shot down by Turkish forces last week.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the body was taken to Turkey late Saturday and was being treated according to Orthodox tradition.

Russian and Syrian forces rescued the plane’s second pilot, while another Russian soldier was killed during the rescue effort.

The plane crashed into a rebel-held area in northern Syria on Tuesday. Turkey and Russia disagree on its flight path, with Turkey saying it violated the country’s airspace and Russia insisting it never left Syria.

Putin orders sanctions

On Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree ordering economic sanctions against Turkey. The measure restricts Russian imports of some Turkish products, prohibits extensions of contracts for Turks working in Russia and impacts the operations of Turkish companies in Russia.

It also calls for ending charter flights from Russia to Turkey and for Russian tourism companies to stop selling vacation packages that would include a stay in Turkey.

Erdogan voices regret

Earlier Saturday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan voiced regret about Turkey’s downing of the Russian plane, saying his country was “truly saddened” by the incident and wished it had not occurred.

Addressing his supporters in the province of Balikesir, Erdogan said he hopes tensions between Turkey and Russia over the incident do not escalate further and lead to dire consequences. He also said he hopes something like this does not happen again.

Erdogan also renewed a call to Putin for a face-to-face meeting in Paris on the sidelines of the Global Climate Summit Monday. Putin has yet to agree to the talks.

Also Saturday, Turkey advised its citizens to delay non-urgent travel to Russia. Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said it issued the travel warning because of unspecified “difficulties” faced by Turkish visitors and residents in Russia.

Putin said the downing of the plane was an act of betrayal by a country Russia had thought of as a friendly state. He also said the United States knew the jet’s flight path and should have informed Turkey, its NATO ally.

The dispute is threatening Turkish-Russian ties and raising fears of a wider international conflict. The two countries are on opposite sides in the Syrian civil war.

Source: VOANews.com