Trump thanks Turkey for Brun­son’s re­lease, de­nies cut­ting a deal

Times of Oman - - WORLD -

WASH­ING­TON/IS­TAN­BUL: Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump thanked Turkey on Satur­day for free­ing Amer­i­can pas­tor An­drew Brun­son af­ter two years in cus­tody and said it would help im­prove strained re­la­tions, but Trump de­nied cut­ting a deal for Brun­son’s re­lease.

“I don’t make deals for hostages. There was, how­ever, great ap­pre­ci­a­tion on be­half of the United States, which will lead to good, per­haps great, re­la­tions be­tween the United States & Turkey!” Trump wrote in a tweet on Satur­day morn­ing.

Brun­son, who had been un­der house ar­rest since July, was flown out of Turkey on Fri­day, and Trump said he would meet him at the White House at 2:30pm ET (1830 GMT) on Satur­day.

Re­la­tions be­tween the two NATO al­lies have been strained by US sup­port for Kur­dish fight­ers in north­ern Syria, Turkey’s plans to buy a Rus­sian mis­sile de­fense sys­tem, and the US jail­ing of an ex­ec­u­tive at a Turk­ish state bank in an Iran sanc­tions-bust­ing case. The dis­pute over Brun­son brought new ten­sion to the re­la­tion­ship.

Trump au­tho­rized a dou­bling of du­ties on alu­minium and steel im­ported from Turkey in Au­gust, and Turkey re­tal­i­ated by in­creas­ing tar­iffs on US cars, al­co­hol and to­bacco im­ports.

Fi­nan­cial cri­sis

Turkey is in a fi­nan­cial cri­sis and its lira cur­rency has plunged against the dol­lar this year on con­cerns over Pres­i­dent Tayyip Er­do­gan’s grip on mone­tary pol­icy and the diplo­matic dis­pute be­tween Ankara and Wash­ing­ton. Trump specif­i­cally thanked Er­do­gan in his tweet on Satur­day.

Brun­son was ac­cused of links to Kur­dish mil­i­tants and sup­port­ers of Fethul­lah Gulen, the cleric blamed by Turkey’s govern­ment for a coup at­tempt in 2016. Brun­son, who lived in Turkey for more than 20 years, de­nied the ac­cu­sa­tions and Wash­ing­ton had de­manded his im­me­di­ate re­lease.

Mean­while, Pres­i­dent Tayyip Er­do­gan said on Satur­day af­ter US pas­tor An­drew Brun­son was freed by a Turk­ish court that the ju­di­ciary had taken its de­ci­sion in­de­pen­dently. “Dear Mr. Pres­i­dent, as I al­ways pointed out, the Turk­ish ju­di­ciary reached its de­ci­sion in­de­pen­dently,” he wrote on his Twit­ter ac­count. “I hope that the United States and Turkey will con­tinue their co­op­er­a­tion as the al­lies that they are, and fight to­gether against ter­ror­ist groups.”

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