Trump thAnKs turKey for brun­son’s re­LeAse

The Sunday Guardian - - World - REUTERS

WASH­ING­TON: 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 2:30 p.m. ET on Satur­day.

Re­la­tions be­tween the two NATO al­lies have been strained by U.S. 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 Turk- ish 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 alu­minum and steel im­ported from Turkey in Au­gust, and Turkey re­tal­i­ated by in­creas­ing tar­iffs on US cars, al­co­hol and to­bacco im­ports. 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.

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