US Rejects Turkey’s Offer to Release Pastor [Report]
President Donald Trump‘s administration has rejected Turkey’s offer to condition the release of an American pastor on clearing a top Turkish bank of billions of dollars in U.S. fines, media reported Monday.
Washington and Ankara are locked in a bitter feud over the nearly two-year jailing of Andrew Brunson over disputed terror charges, which has triggered a trade row and sent the lira into a tailspin.
In exchange for Brunson’s release, and that of other U.S. citizens as well as three Turkish nationals working for the U.S. government, Turkey asked Washington to drop a probe into Halkbank, which is facing possible fines for helping Iran evade U.S. sanctions.
But the U.S. said that discussions regarding the fines and other areas of dispute between the two countries were off the table until Brunson was released, a White House official told the Wall Street Journal.
“A real NATO ally wouldn’t have arrested Brunson in the first place,” the unnamed official said.
Trump has said he had doubled the tariffs on aluminum and steel tariffs from Turkey, prompting Ankara to sharply hike tariffs on several U.S. products.
A court has rejected another appeal to free Brunson and Turkey has threatened to respond in kind if Washington imposed further sanctions.
I disagree that Erdoğan would lose face by freeing Brunson. He controls the media & can spin it as a victory. He was pretty supine with Putin after the downing of the Russian jet. Real question is why he won’t budge on his Halkbank demands which apparently sank the Brunson deal
— Amberin Zaman (@amberinzaman) August 16, 2018