Middle East

Turkey officials to meet with US counterparts amid row: Report

A delegation of Turkish officials will head to Washington in two days to discuss an ongoing row between the two NATO allies, CNN Turk said on Tuesday, citing diplomatic sources.

Relations between the two countries have steadily worsened, strained by differences on Syria policy and over the trial of US pastor Andrew Brunson in Turkey.

A trade spat between the two led Turkey's lira currency to nosedive to a record low on Monday. The Turkish currency, which has lost 27 percent of its value this year, fell some 5.5 percent to a record low of 5.4250 against the dollar, in its biggest single-day drop in nearly 10 years.

Over the weekend, the US Trade Representative said it was reviewing Turkey's duty-free access to the US market. This came after Ankara imposed retaliatory tariffs on US goods in response to American tariffs on steel and aluminium – a move that could affect $1.7bn worth of Turkish exports.

On Tuesday, CNN Turk cited diplomatic sources as saying that Ankara and Washington had reached pre-agreements on certain issues, but did not elaborate further.

In an interview with Middle East Eye on Monday, Brunsons lawyer said “the issue has come to an end”.

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Pastor Brunson's lawyer: 'The issue has to come to an end'

“I think there is a possibility of releasing Andrew Brunson, why not?" he said. "This issue now affects Turkeys economy and its relationship with other countries, this case has been politicised over one person. It would be better if comes to an end and both parties would be relieved.”

The Turkish government was not immediately available for comment.

US President Donald Trump's administration has demanded that Turkey release Brunson, an evangelical pastor who has lived in Turkey for more than two decades and is charged with supporting the group Ankara blames for an attempted coup in 2016.

Last week Washington imposed sanctions on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ministers of justice and interior, saying they played leading roles in organisations responsible for Brunson's arrest.

Erdogan said Turkey would retaliate by freezing assets of the US interior and justice secretaries in Turkey – "if they have any".

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