US hopes spat with Turkey over pastor resolved 'in coming days'

Roman Schwartz
August 4, 2018

The meeting came on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) foreign ministers' meeting.

USA media reported there had been a deal with Turkey to free Brunson after Washington's ally Israel released a Turkish woman held on terror charges.

Cavusoglu called his meeting with Pompeo "constructive".

Turkey's foreign ministry said in a written statement on Thursday: "The decision, which disrespectfully intervenes in our judicial system, will seriously damage the constructive efforts made in order to resolve problems between the two countries".

Turkey has said the sanctions are unacceptable.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said that Brunson was a "victim of unfair and unjust attention by the government of Turkey" as she announced sanctions.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who is set to meet US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the next few days, also warned that the move "will not go without response". They have been at odds over numerous matters, including military activity in northern Syria and Turkey's plans to purchase an advanced air defense system from Russian Federation. But he said threats would not work.

Washington earlier this week imposed sanctions on two Turkish ministers over the case of Andrew Brunson, a us pastor on trial in Turkey for backing terrorism.

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"Since the beginning we said that a solution can not be reached by using threatening language and sanctions", the minister added. Andrew Brunson, who has lived in Turkey for two decades, was swept up in a string of arrests in the wake of a failed military coup against Mr. Erdogan in 2016.

"We call on the USA administration to walk back from this wrong decision", it said in a statement on Wednesday.

Brunson, who led a Protestant church in the Aegean city of Izmir, denies the charges.

The former prime minister's position echoes that of the Turkish government. Although he was released to home detention, he faces a prison sentence of up to 35 years if he is convicted on both counts at the end of his ongoing trial.

Last week, President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence threatened to impose sanctions on Turkey if Brunson was not immediately released.

The Erdogan government has vowed to retaliate against the US sanctions, announced Wednesday, but has not revealed what they will be.

Mr Erdogan has previously tried to swap him for Fethullah Gulen, an Islamic cleric...

Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in the USA since 1999, has denied any role in the 2016 coup attempt.

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