ISTANBUL -- Turkey took steps Friday to calm relations with Russia over the shooting down of a Russian warplane this week, calling for a presidential-level meeting, possibly at the climate talks in Paris next week.
"I would like to meet Putin face to face in Paris," Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said in a speech Friday. "I would like to bring the issue to a reasonable point. We are disturbed that the issue has been escalated." As that invitation was issued, the Turkish prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, said Ankara "will work with Russia and our allies to calm tensions" over the matter. Turkey's foreign minister said his country had suspended airstrikes against the Islamic State in Syria as part of "a mutual decision taken with Russia, which has also halted its aerial campaign near the Turkish border." Erdogan also backed off his incendiary remark Thursday that, "Faced with the same violation today, Turkey would give the same response." In a later interview with France 24 television, he admitted that, "We might have been able to prevent this violation of our airspace differently." Erdogan did not do a complete about-face, however. He warned Russia "not to play with fire" in reacting to the shooting down, adding that, "We really attach a lot of importance to our relations with Russia, and we don't want our relations to suffer in any way." And in a speech late Thursday in southeast Turkey, Erdogan criticized the Kremlin for its support of President Bashar Assad of Syria, saying, "Moscow's siding with a man who conducts state terror is not acceptable." The Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry S. Peskov, confirmed that Russia had received a phone call from Erdogan suggesting the meeting but had no further comment. There was also no confirmation that Russia had stopped bombing near Turkey's border with Syria.
President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia said somewhat grudgingly late Thursday that Moscow would continue to cooperate with the United States-led coalition in its fight against the Islamic State, but he said that episodes like the shoot down could jeopardize the joint operation.
"We are ready to cooperate with the coalition, which is led by the United States," Putin said after a meeting with President FranÃ§ois Hollande of France. "But of course incidents like the destruction of our aircraft and the deaths of our servicemen" are unacceptable.
Putin went on to find fault with the quality of that cooperation, suggesting that the United States, an ally of Turkey, was responsible for the fate of the Russian warplane, since Moscow had relayed the aircraft's flight plan to the coalition.
"What did we give this information to the Americans for?" Putin asked, rhetorically, before adding: "We proceed from the assumption that it will never happen again. Otherwise we don't need any such cooperation with any country." And the Russian leader dismissed Turkey's claim that it had no idea whose warplane it shot down until well after the fact.
"This is all a load of nonsense, just an attempt to make excuses," Putin said. "It is a shame that instead of making a thorough investigation of the situation and taking steps to make sure such things never happen again, we hear from them these unclear explanations and statements to the effect that there is nothing even to apologize for. Well, this is not our choice, but Turkey's choice." Hollande said he and Putin had agreed that France and its allies would share intelligence with Russia, coordinate more strikes against Islamic State targets and concentrate attacks on mainly the militants' infrastructure rather than that of other groups.
Yet the two presidents also made clear that there was still no consensus on one grand coalition, and that the Russian effort would remain separate.
Putin also did not give any indication that he was backing off plans to cut back economic and political relations with Turkey. On Thursday, Prime Minister Dmitry A. Medvedev of Russia gave government officials two days to draw up a list of ways to curb economic ties and investment projects. That included the possible shelving of a multibillion-dollar deal to build a gas pipeline through Turkey that Putin had trumpeted as a welcome alternative route for Russian gas exports to Europe.
The standoff between the Russia and Turkey is posing hurdles for Hollande's effort to cement an international coalition to confront the Islamic State. Even before the shooting down of the military jet, Moscow and Ankara were at odds over the future of Assad, with Turkey insisting that he step aside and Russia seeking to build him up as a central ally in the fight against the Islamic State.