Talks to ease US-Turkey rift to continue

Talks to ease US-Turkey rift to continue

WASHINGTON
Talks to ease US-Turkey rift to continue

Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Önal (2nd L) leaves after a meeting with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan at State Department in Washington, U.S., August 8, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

A Turkish delegation has held talks with the U.S. State Department in a bid to defuse the crisis between Washington and Ankara that erupted over the detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson. 

In a brief statement, the State Department only said the two sides “discussed a range of bilateral matters including pastor Brunson.”

“We held additional talks with Turkish officials. The conversations continue,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement after the meeting.

The delegation, roughly half a dozen officials who were led by newly appointed Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Önal and Turkey’s ambassador to Washington Serdar Kılıç, returned home late afternoon on Aug. 9.

The first meeting started at 11:00 (EDT) and took one hour. Önal, who sat down with Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, did not speak to reporters before or after the visit. There were no signs of a breakthrough after the hour-long talks. The Turkish delegation also met with U.S. Treasury officials on Aug. 8.

The meeting comes a week after the U.S. imposed sanctions on Turkey’s justice and interior ministers.

It was earlier reported that Turkey and the U.S. reached a preliminary agreement on some issues after the crisis. According to sources speaking to daily Hürriyet, the agreement covers “certain subjects.”

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced on Aug. 4 that Turkey had decided to freeze the assets of the U.S. justice and interior secretaries in Turkey in retaliation, but nothing has been done to this end yet.

Çavuşoğlu and Pompeo held a meeting in Singapore just two days after the U.S. imposed the sanctions and agreed to work on keeping diplomatic channels open despite deepening tensions. “I’m very hopeful that we will make progress on that in the days and weeks ahead,” Pompeo had said.

There are concerns, however, in Ankara as the U.S. mulls imposing a fine against Turkey’s state-owned Halkban for allegedly helping Iran evade U.S. sanctions.

The U.S. sanctions on Iran are also expected to be part of the talks since Turkey has been importing crude oil from its neighbor, as Washington plans to introduce a second round of sanctions in November that includes oil imports from Iran.

Washington is also reviewing Turkey’s duty-free access to U.S. markets, while Ankara has imposed retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods in response to American steel and aluminum tariffs. The U.S. review could affect $1.7 billion of Turkish exports.

Diplomacy, Politics, Turkey sanctions