Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, said on Wednesday that “there’s a logic” to lifting some US sanctions on Turkey after the release of American pastor Andrew Brunson, who had been detained in Turkey for two years.
“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,” said Mr Pompeo, who had travelled to Turkey to discuss the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. “But no final decision has been made. I need to talk to the president about that.”
The Trump administration placed sanctions on two Turkish cabinet ministers after a tentative deal to secure Mr Brunson’s release first collapsed in August. The US also imposed tariffs on Turkey’s steel and aluminium exports, leading to an immediate drop in the value of the lira.
The lira, which was trading marginally higher earlier on Wednesday, extended that gain to 1.2 per cent at 5.61 per dollar.
Mr Pompeo said Mr Brunson’s release “opens up lots of opportunities” to improve US-Turkey relations, which have fallen to a new low in recent months. He added that he had discussed “half a dozen” topics with Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s president, including reducing Turkey’s imports of Iranian oil before the resumption of US sanctions next month.
“We are working with the Turks to make sure that we get to the right place,” he said. “They buy Iranian crude oil; we’d like them to buy less.”
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