DOHA (Reuters) - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday no one had the right to “slander” Turkey by accusing it of buying oil from Islamic State, and that he would stand down if such allegations were proven to be true.
Erdogan, who was speaking at a university in Qatar’s capital Doha, said he did not want relations with Moscow to worsen further.
“Nobody has the right to slander Turkey by saying Turkey is buying Daesh oil,” he said, using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State.
Russia’s defense ministry said it had proof that Erdogan and his family were benefiting from the illegal smuggling of oil from Islamic State-held territory in Syria and Iraq.
Government officials described the claims as baseless, while a senior official from the ruling AK Party founded by Erdogan said they were part of a narrative being spun for a Russian domestic audience.
Relations between the two hit their worst in recent memory after Turkey downed a Russian jet near the Syrian border last week, prompting Moscow to impose a raft of sanctions on Ankara.
Reporting by Tom Finn in Doha, Humeyra Pamuk and Melih Aslan in Istanbul, and Orhan Coskun in Ankara; Writing by David Dolan; Editing by Nick Tattersall