- The Washington Times - Monday, November 30, 2015

President Obama “expressed regret” to Russian President Vladimir Putin Monday for the death of a Russian fighter pilot shot down by a Turkish warplane near the border with Syria last week.

The White House said their meeting came on the sidelines of a climate-change summit in Paris, and that the two leaders discussed diplomatic efforts to reach a cease-fire and political resolution to Syria’s civil war.

“President Obama expressed his regret for the recent loss of a Russian pilot and crew member and reiterated the United States’ support for de-escalation between Russia and Turkey,” the White House said.

Turkey, an ally of the U.S. in NATO, has refused to apologize for shooting down the Russian plane, saying it violated Turkish airspace. Russia has denied the allegation and slapped sanctions on Turkey.

The other crew member of the Russian plane survived the downing and was rescued.

Mr. Obama again told Mr. Putin, whose military is backing Syrian President Bashar Assad, that Mr. Assad must give up power in a political transition, and that Russian forces must focus their fire against the Islamic State militant group instead of targeting moderate Syrian opposition groups.

They also discussed the crisis in Ukraine, with Mr. Obama saying international sanctions against Russia “can be rolled back” if Moscow complies with a previous agreement to cease hostilities in eastern Ukraine.

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