Kremlin says Turkey apologized to Putin over plane incident

Russia's President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a meeting with the United Russia party members in Moscow, Russia, June 27, 2016. Russia's President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a meeting with the United Russia party members in Moscow, Russia, June 27, 2016. REUTERS/Maxim Shipenkov/Pool

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has written to Russian leader Vladimir Putin to apologize over the shooting down of a Russian air force jet by Turkey’s military, the Kremlin said on Monday.

After the Russian jet was shot down in November last year near the Syrian-Turkish border, Russia imposed trade restrictions on Ankara. Putin had said they would not be lifted unless Erdogan apologized over the incident.

There was no immediate comment from Ankara.

In a statement, the Kremlin said Putin had received a letter from Erdogan “in which the Turkish leader expressed his desire to resolve the situation connected to the downing of a Russian military aircraft.”

“The letter states, in particular, that Russia is a friend to Turkey and a strategic partner, with which the Turkish authorities would not wish to spoil relations,” the Kremlin statement said.

It cited Erdogan as saying in the letter: “I want to once again express my sympathy and deep condolences to the family of the Russian pilot who died and I say: ‘I’m sorry.'”

The Turkish lira firmed to 2.9330 against the U.S. dollar from 2.9430 beforehand after the Kremlin said Erdogan had expressed his regret.

(Reporting by Jack Stubbs; Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Dmitry Solovyov)

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