Turkey defends Russia ties despite Syria strikes



Turkey's foreign minister has rejected a claim by France's president that the weekend's airstrikes on Syria have driven a wedge between Turkey and Russia.

Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Monday that Turkey was cooperating with Russia and Iran to try and reduce the conflict in Syria despite long-standing disagreement with them over their support to Syrian President Bashar Assad.

He says that Turkey's "ties with Russia are not weak enough to be driven apart by the French president. We have strong ties with Russia" and added that the "relations with Russia aren't an alternative to our relations with NATO, or with France or the United States."

Cavusoglu was speaking during a joint news conference with NATO's Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

Turkey has backed the Saturday airstrikes in Syria by the United States, France and Britain.