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Pompeo suggests US may lift Turkey sanctions linked to pastor

AFP , Wednesday 17 Oct 2018
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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday after talks in Ankara that Washington may now lift sanctions imposed on Turkey during the dispute over its detention of an American pastor.

"We'll have a decision on that shortly but some of the sanctions that were put in place were directly connected to Pastor Brunson and there's a logic to now removing those as well," Pompeo told reporters as his plane refuelled in Belgium.

President Donald Trump's administration imposed sanctions targeting Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul and Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu in response to Turkey's arrest and prosecution of US pastor Andrew Brunson on terror charges.

In all, Brunson was held for two years and was convicted and sentenced earlier this month of espionage and aiding terror groups, only to be quickly released on the basis of good behaviour and time served.

Trump hailed the release, which has been seen as a opening for Ankara and Washington to restore frayed ties, including with Pompeo, who met President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier Wednesday.

In Ankara, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu did not address the issue of the Brunson-related sanctions directly, but declared that any such US measures were "nonsense".

"We agree that in our relations, there should be no sanctions like this and other issues," he said. "As long as there are sanctions, relations can go nowhere."

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