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Turkey's Erdogan Apologizes for Downing Russian Jet

Russian trade restrictions were placed on Turkey after the incident, and Putin has said they would not be lifted unless an apology was forthcoming.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.

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.'" 

Turkey later confirmed the Kremlin's statement.

"The president also called on his Russian counterpart to restore the traditional friendly relations between Turkey and Russia, work together to address regional crises and jointly combat terrorism," Erdogan spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said in a statement.

"We are pleased to announce that Turkey and Russia have agreed to take necessary steps without delay to improve bilateral relations," the statement said.

The man suspected of killing the Russian air force pilot after his plane was shot down is being prosecuted, a Turkish official said.

Alparslan Celik, who was fighting with a Turkish-backed Turkmen brigade opposing government forces in northern Syria at the time, was detained at the end of March in the Aegean coastal city of Izmir on unrelated charges, but a court decided in May there was insufficient evidence against him. 

Celik's prosecution was long demanded by Moscow. 

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.Schermata 2016 06 28 alle 14.57.34

Video of the Week New Clashes Erupt Between Israeli Security Forces, Muslim Worshippers

Temple Mount temporarily closed to Jewish visitors after clashes with police




The Temple Mount was temporarily closed to Jewish visitors on Wednesday at the order of Jerusalem District Commander Yoram Halevy after Jews broke visitation rules at the holy site, police said. The Jewish visitors were expelled from the compound for bringing sacred books to the Mount and trying to pray there. After one of the individuals was cautioned, another took out a holy book, and the group was expelled. Meanwhile, renewed clashes erupted between protesters and Israeli security forces near the Lion's Gate in the Old City, where police used stun grenades against the demonstrators. A regular dynamic has developed involving clashes between Palestinians and Israel Police over the past several days near the Lion's Gate. Dozens of Palestinians are present at the site on a regular basis, urging devotion to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and condemning Israel. During Muslim prayer times, particularly the midday and nighttime prayers, hundreds and sometimes even thousands have been gathering there.

There have been outbreaks of violence during these periods, including stone-throwing or physical confrontations with the police. In most of these incidents, the police have been using stun grenades and sponge-tipped bullets to disperse the crowds. In a number of cases, journalists in the area have also suffered violence at the hands of the police. On Tuesday, Hassan Shaalan, a reporter for the Ynet news website, was struck by a policeman even after he identified himself as a member of the press. A group of Jerusalem-based journalists released a statement of condemnation over the incident and called on the police to permit reporters to do their jobs. The Jerusalem Police responded: "This involved an incident that took place in the course of violent disturbances of the peace that occurred in Jerusalem while the police were acting to remove the demonstrators from the street after some of them refused to vacate. The forces working on the scene are under constant threat to their lives. http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.802141

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