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U.S. Urges Russia, Turkey to Cool Standoff Over Downed Plane

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WASHINGTON:(APS)Nov25,2015-U.S. President Barack Obama and the NATO military alliance called for a de-escalation of tensions between Turkey and Russia, as their war of words over the downing of a Russian fighter jet threatened to undermine efforts for a united front against Islamic State.

Turkey shot down the plane near its border with northwestern Syria early Tuesday, drawing an angry rebuke from President Vladimir Putin and marking the first direct clash between foreign powers embroiled in the Syrian civil war. Turkey said the pilots ignored repeated warnings about violating its airspace, while Putin called the attack “a stab in the back from the accomplices of terrorism.”

Obama said Tuesday he’ll make it a “top priority” to prevent the Turkey-Russia standoff from worsening, and focus instead on destroying jihadist groups. Jens Stoltenberg, head of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, of which Turkey is a member, said that “the common enemy” is Islamic State and called for expanded contacts between Turkey and Russia to defuse the dispute.

Obama discussed the need to de-escalate the situation with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the two leaders reiterated their shared commitment to “degrade and ultimately destroy” Islamic State, the White House said in a statement.

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