World

Pompeo Renews Calls for the Return of American Pastor Imprisoned in Turkey

Pompeo Renews Calls for the Return of American Pastor Imprisoned in Turkey

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu agreed on Friday to try to resolve a series of disputes, after relations between the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies sank to their lowest point in decades.

Turkey's lira tumbled to a record low beyond 5 to the dollar on Thursday, after Washington imposed sanctions on two of President Tayyip Erdogan's ministers over the trial of a us pastor accused of backing terrorism.

"I can say that it was a very constructive meeting", stated Cavusoglu.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, meanwhile, said on Saturday he hopes the American held in Turkey will be released in the coming days.

"Of course you can't expect all issues to be resolved in a single meeting".

"At the president's direction, the Department of the Treasury is sanctioning Turkey's minister of justice and minister of interior, both of whom played leading roles in the arrest and detention of Pastor Brunson", she told journalists.

Despite the slide in lira, the Turkish economy still shows a high rate of growth.

Within hours Turkey vowed to retaliate "without delay" but since then the tone of comments from Ankara has moderated and so far it has taken no such step.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says his country is facing an "economic war" after the lira hit a fresh record low against the dollar amid rising tensions with Washington.

Meanwhile, Pompeo noted that Brunson's detainment was just one of many issues the USA has with Turkey - for instance, Turkey's ongoing detention of three Turkish employees of the U.S. consulate in Istanbul.

The former prime minister's position echoes that of the Turkish government.

"Pretty straightforward", Pompeo said.

"We are going to work to see if we can find a way forward; I am hopeful that we can", he said. "It's pretty straightforward. Pastor Brunson is an innocent pastor and they need to let him return to the United States".

The pastor, who has lived in Turkey for more than 20 years, faces as many as 35 years in jail if found guilty.

Those conflicts include the arrests of USA citizens as well as local consular staff, US senators pushing to block the delivery of American F-35 jets following Turkey's pledge to buy the Russian S-400 missile system, and Turkey's demand that Fethullah Gulen, a US -based cleric blamed for a failed coup attempt, be extradited to stand trial. He was also charged with supporting outlawed Kurdish PKK militants.


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