Pompeo suggests US may lift Turkey sanctions linked to pastor

Published October 17, 2018
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (R) leave their meeting at Ankara Esenboga Airport in Ankara, on October 17, 2018. —AFP
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (R) leave their meeting at Ankara Esenboga Airport in Ankara, on October 17, 2018. —AFP

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday after talks in Ankara that Washington may now lift sanctions imposed on Turkey during the dispute over its detention of an American pastor.

“We'll have a decision on that shortly but some of the sanctions that were put in place were directly connected to Pastor Brunson and there's a logic to now removing those as well,” Pompeo told reporters as his plane refuelled in Belgium.

President Donald Trump's administration imposed sanctions targeting Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul and Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu in response to Turkey's arrest and prosecution of US pastor Andrew Brunson on terror charges.

Ankara then hit back with similar sanctions against members of the US administration.

In all, Brunson was held for two years and was convicted and sentenced on Friday of espionage and aiding terror groups, only to be quickly released on the basis of good behaviour and time served.

Trump hailed the release, which has been seen as a opening for Ankara and Washington to restore frayed ties, including with Pompeo, who met President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier on Wednesday.

After his meeting with Pompeo in Ankara, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters that sanctions were “nonsense”.

“We agree that in our relations, there should be no sanctions like this and other issues,” he said. “As long as there are sanctions, relations can go nowhere.”

The Turkish lira has rallied against the US dollar in the past week following Brunson's release.

On Wednesday the Turkish currency stood at 5.55 against the greenback, a gain in value of over two per cent at 1530 GMT after Pompeo's remarks.

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