US, Turkey agree to resolve their differences

Singapore

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 NATO allies sank to their lowest point in decades.
Their meeting in Singapore followed Washington’s imposition on Wednesday of sanctions on two Turkish ministers over the case of Andrew Brunson, a US pastor on trial in Turkey for backing terrorism.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert described their conversation on the sidelines of a regional ministers’ meeting as constructive. “They agreed to continue to try to resolve the issues between our two countries,” she said.
Cavusoglu said he had repeated Turkey’s message that “the threatening language and sanctions do not achieve anything,” but added that he and Pompeo would take steps to resolve their differences when they returned home.
“Of course you can’t expect all issues to be resolved in a single meeting,” he told Turkish television channels. “But we have agreed to work together, closely cooperate and keep the dialogue in the coming period,” he added, also describing the talks as very constructive.
Washington imposed sanctions on Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul and Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, accusing them of playing leading roles in organizations responsible for the arrest and detention of Brunson, an evangelical Christian who has lived in Turkey for more than two decades. The move sent the Turkish lira to record low. 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. Finance minister Berat Albayrak, who is President Tayyip Erdogan’s son-in-law, also said relations with the United States would never break down, despite the temporary escalation.
Pompeo told reporters the United States had put Turkey on notice “that the clock had run and it was time for Pastor Brunson to be returned.”
“I hope they’ll see this for what it is, a demonstration that we’re very serious,” he said of the sanctions. “We consider this one of the many issues that we have with the Turks.”
“Brunson needs to come home. As do all the Americans being held by the Turkish government. Pretty straightforward. They’ve been holding these folks for a long time. These are innocent people,” he said. “We are going to work to see if we can find a way forward; I am hopeful that we can.”
The United States has also been seeking the release of three locally employed embassy staff detained in Turkey.
Brunson is charged with supporting a group Ankara blames for orchestrating an attempted coup in 2016. He denies the charges but faces up to 35 years in jail. —Agencies

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