China urges stronger coordination after Turkey downs Russian jet; Iran says downing sends 'wrong message' to terrorists

BEIJING (Reuters, AFP) - China called for more coordination in the fight against terrorism on Wednesday (Nov 25) after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane near the Syrian border, while Iran said the downing "sends the wrong message to the terrorists" in Syria.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said China was paying close attention to the incident and that many circumstances "needed further clarification".

"China supports the international fight against terrorism, and we hope all sides strengthen their communication and coordination," Hong told a regular press briefing.

While relying on the region for oil supplies, China tends to leave Middle Eastern diplomacy to the other five permanent members of the UN Security Council, namely the United States, Britain, France and Russia.

However, China has long said there is no military solution to Syria's problems and has criticised the West and Russia for bombing campaigns there.

The incident appeared to scupper hopes of a rapprochement between Russia and the West in the wake of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) attacks in Paris, which had led to calls for a united front against the extremist group in Syria.

Turkey is a major backer of rebels who have been fighting loyalists of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since 2011, although it also joined a US-led coalition fighting ISIS in Syria earlier this year.

Russia and Iran are the main foreign backers of Assad's regime against the rebels. Moscow launched a bombing campaign in Syria on Sept 30 but critics, including Ankara, say it has mainly targeted moderate and Islamist rebel groups, rather than ISIS.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov late Tuesday that actions such as Turkey's shooting down of the Russian jet "will lead to an escalation of the Syrian crisis and sends the wrong message to the terrorist groups".

"Any measure that increases tensions and complicates the situation will be a wrong signal to the terrorists," foreign ministry spokesman Hossein Jaber-Ansari quoted Zarif as saying. It makes them "believe they can continue their terrorist activities ... by exploiting the division of views among the parties."