Turkey, US ‘keeping diplomatic channels open’

Turkey, US ‘keeping diplomatic channels open’

Turkey, US ‘keeping diplomatic channels open’

The foreign ministers of Turkey and the United States are working on keeping diplomatic channels open despite deepening tensions over the detention of an American pastor and several other issues straining relations.

The issue between the two NATO allies over the detention of pastor Andrew Brunson can be resolved through dialogue, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Aug. 4 at an event of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Deploying a threatening language does not help the U.S. get any results from Turkey, he noted.

His remarks came one day after a meeting with his U.S. counterpart Mike Pompeo, their first face-to-face engagement after the U.S. slapped sanctions against Turkey.

Çavuşoğlu said his meeting with Pompeo in Singapore was “constructive,” while adding that the two countries had to sit down and discuss a roadmap to solve the problem.

“The U.S. itself needs a positive agenda. I believe we can overcome the current situation through compromise, diplomacy, negotiation and good faith, but not by language of threatening. There is an intense process ahead of us,” Çavuşoğlu said.

Turkey remains a key NATO ally, despite the recent tensions, Pompeo said in a separate statement, noting that he was hopeful there would be progress toward freeing the American pastor.

Pompeo told reporters on Aug. 4 that he had a “constructive conversation” with Çavuşoğlu.

“I made it clear that it is well past time that pastor Brunson should be freed and be permitted to return to the United States, and the others being held by Turkey also similarly must be freed as well,” he said.

“I’m very hopeful that we will make progress on that in the days and weeks ahead,” he added.

Brunson, who led a Protestant church in the Aegean city of İzmir, is at the center of one of the most serious crises in relations between the NATO allies in years.

The pastor was moved to house arrest last week after nearly two years in jail on terror-related charges, but the change only increased tensions.

The U.S. responded to the failure to fully free Brunson by hitting two top Turkish ministers with sanctions, prompting Ankara to threaten reciprocal measures.