Turkey to freeze assets of United States officials

04 August, 2018, 18:30 | Author: Diane Mills
  • US Pastor Andrew Brunson is seen inside a car escorted by Turkish plain-clothes police officers as he arrives at his house

Pastor Andrew Brunson has been held for almost two years over alleged links to Erdogan's political rivals.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Saturday he was "hopeful that in the coming days" Turkey would free Brunson.

Andrew Brunson, who led a Protestant church in the Aegean city of Izmir, is at the centre of one of the most serious crises in relations between the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies in years.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Istanbul's new airport will become fully operational on October 29, as he delivers a speech during the "new government's 100-day action plan" meeting in Ankara.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu met on the sidelines of a regional security forum in Singapore on Friday, their first meeting since the crisis began.

Turkey's Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu and Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul mocked the sanctions this week, saying they have no assets in the U.S, but the sign of deteriorating Turkish-American relations sent Turkey's national currency - the lira - tumbling. "Our relationship will never be cut", he said.

The NATO allies are also at odds over the Syrian war, Turkey's plan to buy missile defences from Russian Federation and the USA conviction of a Turkish state bank executive on Iran sanctions-busting charges this year.

He gave an nearly two hour policy speech in Ankara Friday, without once referring directly to the tensions.

More news: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: U.S. to ‘Deepen Engagement’ in Asia

The Turkish lira on Wednesday slumped to record lows of 5.0 against the dollar as the U.S. hit Turkey's justice and interior ministers with sanctions over the case of an American pastor on trial for terror-related charges.

Turkey has been trying to have Gulen extradited from the USA for two years.

Brunson, whose trial began in the spring, faces up to 35 years in jail if convicted.

Mr. Brunson had denied all charges and his case has become a cause celebre for US evangelicals and the Trump administration.

US-Turkey ties were already strained over US support for a Syrian Kurdish militia which Turkey views as a terrorist group and the failure to extradite Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen blamed for the 2016 failed putsch.

The Manbij deal between Turkey and the USA focuses on the withdrawal of the PKK-affiliated People's Protection Units (YPG) from the northern Syrian city and stability in the region.

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.

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