No plans to open Turkish air base to Russia: Minister

AFP , Monday 4 Jul 2016

Turkey's foreign minister said Monday there are no plans to let Russia use a Turkish air base to launch strikes against the Islamic State group despite a thaw between the two countries.

Mevlut Cavusoglu moved to clarify his position after appearing to suggest in an interview with TRT television Sunday that Turkey could let Moscow use the southern Incirlik base.

"That's not what I said," Cavusoglu said on television on Monday, saying his comments had been misinterpreted by the press.

"I said we were ready to cooperate with everyone in the fight against IS."

Cavusoglu had said in the TRT interview: "We have opened the Incirlik air base to those who want to participate in the fight against Daesh. So why not cooperate with Russia in the same way?"

Turkey and Russia back opposite sides in the Syrian war, with Moscow carrying out strikes in support of its ally President Bashar al-Assad and Turkey seeking his removal from power.

Moscow and Ankara plunged into a diplomatic crisis in November when Turkey shot down one of Russia's military jets on the Syrian border.

But over the last week they have announced a bid to repair ties, with Russia set to lift punishing economic sanctions on Turkey.

The two countries share a common enemy in IS, which controls a swathe of land right up to the Turkish border.

The Incirlik base is used by the US-led coalition fighting IS, with Turkish, American, British, German and Saudi jets deploying from there.

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