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Putin says Turkey has said sorry for downing jet

But officials in Ankara say their expression of 'regret' was short of apologizing

Published: Updated:

In politics, as in life, sorry seems to be the hardest word. According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkey on Thursday has apologized for the shooting down of a Russian war plane last year.

But officials in Ankara say they had expressed regret but stopped short of apologizing.

The news is part of a fresh saga of tensions and reconciliation between the two countries, which fell out after Turkey downed a Russian warplane in November. The tensions caused Moscow slap an embargo on Turkish food products and ban charter flights and the sale of package tours to the country, long popular with Russian tourists seeking warmer weather.

Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayip Erdogan on Wednesday held their first phone call since Ankara downed one of Moscow's jets in Syria last year, both sides said, and will later meet in person.

Extending an apparent olive branch of peace, Putin said after the phone call with Erdogan that he would lift travel restrictions to Turkey.

The Turkish president said in a statement after the call that the two leaders would “remain in contact and “meet in person” to “reinvigorate bilateral relations and fight terrorism together.”

Turkey this week has been left reeling after 42 people were killed and 239 injured at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport, the country’s main hub. ISIS is suspected to have carried out the attack.

The three suicide bombers who carried out an attack on the airport were of Russian, Uzbek and Kyrgyz nationality, a Turkish official said on Thursday.

Russia expects full compensation

Interfax news agency quoted Russia’s ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, as saying on Thursday that Moscow expects compensation from Ankara for the shooting down of the Russian jet before a full restoration of Russian-Turkish relations.

“Vladimir Vladimirovich has made clear our terms which will allow to restore our relations: apologies, punishment for those guilty and compensation,” Karlov told Interfax referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin. “The first has happened, we are now waiting for the second and third.”

(With Reuters)