Pastor row: USA and Turkey hold 'constructive' talks

  • Pastor row: USA and Turkey hold 'constructive' talks

Pastor row: USA and Turkey hold 'constructive' talks

Speaking on Friday ahead of the meeting, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that USA sanctions on Turkey showed America is "very serious" about Brunson's release.

Turkey has vowed to retaliate against a recent United States move to sanction two ministers of the cabinet of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

On Friday, the two leaders agreed to work together to resolve tensions between the two countries.

Andrew Brunson, who led a Protestant church in the Aegean city of Izmir, was placed under house arrest last week following almost two years in jail on charges of espionage and supporting terror groups.

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.

Pompeo met with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on the sidelines of a Southeast Asian security conference in Singapore.

"We've seen no evidence that Pastor Brunson has done anything wrong and we believe he is a victim of unfair and unjust detention by the government of Turkey", White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders emphasized to reporters Wednesday.

Both Cavusoglu and State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert described the conversation as constructive.

The Foreign Ministry said it would retaliate against what it called Washington's hostile action.

The NATO allies are also at odds over the Syrian war, Turkey's plan to buy missile defences from Russian Federation and the USA conviction of a Turkish state bank executive on Iran sanctions-busting charges this year.

"We have said from the start that the other side's threatening language and sanctions will not get any result".

Pastor Andrew Brunson was held in prison for almost two years before he was moved to house arrest last week, disappointing American officials who expected his release.

Brunson, 50, is being tried on espionage and terror-related charges, which he and the US government vehemently deny.

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

The US Treasury implemented the sanctions under the 2016 Global Magnitsky Act, named after Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died in a Moscow jail, and which allows the US to sanction foreign officials implicated in rights abuses.

Ankara claims Brunson has ties to US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, who it says was behind a 2016 failed coup attempt, and the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Gulen denies the allegations.