Pastor row: United States and Turkey hold 'constructive' talks

Pastor row: United States and Turkey hold 'constructive' talks

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Saturday he hoped Americans detained in Turkey would be released "in coming days", following a meeting with his Turkish counterpart in Singapore which both sides said was constructive.

Cavusgolu and Pompeo met on the sidelines of a meeting of regional ministers in Singapore.

The White House this week slapped sanctions on Turkey's justice and interior ministers over the case, which has badly strained relations between the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies.

Speaking to Turkish journalists after his meeting with Pompeo, Cavusoglu also described their discussion as "extremely constructive" and said the two would continue to work toward resolving disputes.

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

The standoff appears to be one of the most serious crises between Turkey and the United States in modern history, along with the rows over the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus and the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was quoted by media Friday as saying that Ankara was preparing to respond to Washington in equal measures. "We repeated to them that nothing can be achieved through threatening language and sanctions and we believe that this was well understood", he said.

The Foreign Ministry strongly protested against the U.S. Treasury Department's decision, calling on the U.S. administration to reverse its "wrong decision". Andrew Brunson, who has lived in Turkey for two decades, was swept up in a string of arrests in the wake of a failed military coup against Mr. Erdogan in 2016.

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He added: 'It wasn't so much thinking about hanging the rackets up, I've always planned and wanted to come back. There was a cross-court passing victor at just the right angle.

Brunson, who led a Protestant church in the Aegean city of Izmir, denies the charges.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has rejected the USA demands, saying his government won't back down and is willing to "go its own way" if the US acted.

He was recently released from prison and put under house arrest but still faces a sentence of up to 35 years if he is convicted at his ongoing trial.

But Brunson's case has resonated with U.S. President Donald Trump and more particularly with Vice President Mike Pence.

Mr Erdogan has previously tried to swap him for Fethullah Gulen, an Islamic cleric...

The Turks have also vowed to retaliate for the sanctions "without delay".

Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in the United States since 1999, has denied any role in the 2016 coup attempt.

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