WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke to his Russian counterpart on Wednesday to urge calm and dialogue between Turkey and Russia after Turkey's downing of a Russian warplane at the Syrian border.
In a telephone call with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Kerry "stressed the need for both sides not to allow this incident to escalate tensions between their two countries or in Syria," the State Department said in a statement.
"The secretary offered his condolences for the loss of life in yesterday’s incident with Turkey. He urged for calm and for dialogue between Turkish and Russian officials in the days ahead," the department added, saying Kerry "underscored the importance of progress toward a diplomatic solution in Syria."
The downing of the jet on Tuesday was one of the most serious publicly acknowledged clashes between a NATO member and Russia for half a century, and further complicated international efforts to battle Islamic State militants in Syria.[ID:nL8N13K3IC]
While Russian officials expressed fury over Turkey's actions, and spoke of retaliatory measures that were likely to include curbing travel by Russian tourists to Turkish resorts, there was no sign Russia wanted a military escalation.
Kerry has convened a series of meetings in Vienna including Russia and Iran, the main backers of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and Saudi Arabia and Turkey, which both want Assad's rule to end, to try find a diplomatic end to the four-and-a-half-year Syrian civil war.
(Reporting by Arshad Mohammed and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Andrew Hay)