Turkey Begins Trade Curbs

ISTANBUL -- Turkey began curbing Russian imports Monday as tensions over Georgia strained NATO's relations with Moscow.

"Additional trade controls will be applied on Russian goods entering Turkey through third countries," Foreign Trade Minister Kursad Tuzmen told state-run news agency Anatolian.

The measures are in retaliation for delays Turkish exporters have suffered at Russian border crossings since Turkey, a NATO member, allowed two U.S. ships to transit the Bosporus to provide aid to Georgia after Moscow's military action there.

"We don't want to apply these measures, but we are acting reciprocally," Tuzmen said.

Russia, which is Turkey's largest trade partner and supplies two-thirds of its natural gas, has been angered by what it calls a NATO buildup in the Black Sea, accessed via the Turkish-controlled strait.

A trade official said the additional measures included checks on Russian goods entering Turkey, which were intended to cause delays.

But a government spokesman denied that additional controls were being placed on Russian goods entering Turkey. He said he hoped the problem would be solved through diplomacy Tuesday, when Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is due to visit Istanbul.