Trump administration rejects Turkey offer to release pastor: Report

WION Web Team
Washington, DC, USA Published: Aug 20, 2018, 03:54 PM(IST)

US pastor Andrew Brunson. Photograph:( Reuters )

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 US fines, news reports said 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 US citizens as well as three Turkish nationals working for the US government, Turkey asked Washington to drop a probe into Halkbank, which is facing possible fines for helping Iran evade US sanctions.

But the US 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 aluminium and steel tariffs from Turkey, prompting Ankara to sharply hike tariffs on several US products.

A court has rejected another appeal to free Brunson and Turkey has threatened to respond in kind if Washington imposed further sanctions.

Brunson was accused of helping supporters of Fethullah Gulen, the US-based cleric who Turkish authorities say masterminded the 2016 coup attempt against Erdogan in which 250 people were killed.

He was also charged with supporting outlawed PKK Kurdish militants and espionage. 

(With inputs from Reuters)

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