Turkey 'won't apologise' for downing Russia jet

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mr Davutoglu said protecting Turkey's borders and airspace was "a national duty"

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has said Turkey will not apologise for bringing down a Russian jet on the Syrian border.

Mr Davutoglu said the incident was unfortunate but that Turkey had a right and duty to protect its airspace.

The body of a pilot killed in the incident is being flown home.

Also on Monday, a Russian military spokesman said Russia has armed its Su-34 fighter jets over Syria with air-to-air missiles for the first time.

While he did not mention which particular threat the missiles were meant to counter, it comes six days after the Russian plane was shot down by Turkey.

Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, appearing with Mr Davutoglu in Brussels, said the alliance fully supported the right of member nation Turkey to defend its airspace.

He said there was concern about increased Russian presence in the region, but that the focus was on calming the situation.

Turkish forces shot down the Su-24 plane on 24 November, saying it had violated Turkish airspace, which Russia denies.

Mr Davutoglu urged Russia to reconsider the economic sanctions that Moscow has announced.

The row between the two countries shows no sign of abating, with Russia saying President Vladimir Putin would not meet his Turkish counterpart at the current climate summit in Paris.

Russia said on Monday it would ban mainly imports of agricultural products, vegetables and fruits from Turkey, although it may delay the restrictions for several weeks to "ease inflationary pressure".

Turkish industrial goods would not be banned for now but future expansion of the sanctions was not ruled out, officials said.

Turkey and Russia have important economic links. Russia is Turkey's second-largest trading partner, while more than three million Russian tourists visited Turkey last year.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Turkey says the body has been treated in accordance with Orthodox Christian tradition

Meanwhile, the coffin of Lt Col Oleg Peshkov left Ankara's Esenboga International Airport on Monday after a military ceremony.

The Turkish military issued a press release saying a Turkish garrison commander and a Russian delegation observed a military and religious ceremony before the body of Lt Col Peshkov left on a plane for Russia.

Lt Col Peshkov's body had been flown to the capital from southern Turkey on Sunday.

Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoglu earlier said that the pilot's body had been treated in accordance with Orthodox Christian tradition.

It was reportedly handed over to Turkish authorities by rebels from Syria's ethnic Turkmen community in the Hatay region in the early hours of Sunday.

The exact circumstances of his death remain unclear but Turkmen rebels said they opened fire on Lt Col Peshkov and his co-pilot as they tried to parachute into Syrian government-held territory last Tuesday.

The other pilot, Capt Konstantin Murakhtin, survived and was rescued from rebel-held territory in Syria in a special forces operation that left another Russian dead.

Russia says it has been carrying out air strikes on Islamic State (IS) militants inside Syria, although Nato members have said it is also hitting rebel groups who are fighting both IS and Russia's ally, President Bashar al-Assad.