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US diplomat says ambassador's tragic death may lead to better anti-terrorism cooperation

When asked whether he has confidence in the Turkish investigators, the former ambassador replied that there was no grounds to question them
Alexander Vershbow Vadim Denisov/ITAR-TASS
Alexander Vershbow
© Vadim Denisov/ITAR-TASS

WASHINGTON, December 21. /TASS/. The assassination of the Russian ambassador in Turkey may result in a wider anti-terrorism cooperation not only between Moscow and Ankara, but also with the West in general, a former US ambassador to Russia told TASS Wednesday.

"I hope [to see] out of this tragedy greater cooperation not only between Russian and Turkey but between Russia and the West in general," said Alexander Vershbow, who served as the US ambassador to Moscow in 2001-2005. "But beyond that I think first we need to see how the investigation goes and be sure that this was not a part of the conspiracy, that this was a deranged individual, and move forward."

When asked about the tragedy by a TASS reporter at a media event, Vershbow started by expressing his condolences to the slain diplomat’s family.

"Obviously, I can only echo the sincere condolences expressed by Secretary Kerry and others over what was an outrageous act against a diplomat. I feel certain solidarity as a former Ambassador myself," said Vershbow, who was on diplomatic service in 1997-2008 and is now a senior researcher at the non-governmental Atlantic Council in Washington.

When asked whether he has confidence in the Turkish investigation into the case, the former ambassador replied: "I don't have any basis to question that."

"They've been the victims of the many terrorist acts almost every week in Turkey - some from ISIL side, some from Kurdish extremists. So, we are all in this together," he continued. ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant) is a former name of the radical Islamic State Islamist group, outlawed in Russia.

An armed man whom the police identified later as Mevlut Mert Altintas, 22, a former police officer, opened indiscriminate fire on Monday in an arts gallery in Ankara where Ambassador Karlov was opening an exhibition of Turkish photographic works featuring Russia. He received a gunshot wound, of which he died at hospital later.

Turkish officials said the attacker was eliminated on the spot. Apart from the ambassador, he wounded three more people.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told his US counterpart John Kerry that the movement of Fethullah Gulen was behind the assassination, the official Anadolu news agency reported Tuesday.