Withdrawal of radical groups in Idlib starts: Erdoğan
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has announced that the withdrawal of "radical groups" had already started from a new demilitarised zone in Syria's Idlib region.
In an interview for Reuters on Sept. 25 while he was in New York for the annual United Nations General Assembly meetings, Erdoğan said it was impossible for Syrian peace efforts to continue with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in power.
Turkish President also said a Turkish court, not politicians, will decide the fate of a American pastor Andrew Brunson whose detention on terrorism charges has roiled relations between Ankara and Washington.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sept. 24 he was hopeful Turkey would release evangelical pastor Brunson this month. He was moved to house arrest in July after being detained for 21 months.
"This is a judiciary matter. Brunson has been detained on terrorism charges ... On Oct 12 there will be another hearing and we don't know what the court will decide and politicians will have no say on the verdict," Erdoğan said.
If found guilty, Brunson could be jailed for up to 35 years. He denies the charges.
"As the president, I don't have the right to order his release. Our judiciary is independent. Let's wait and see what the court will decide," Erdoğan said.
"The Brunson case is not even closely related to Turkey's economy. The current economic challenges have been exaggerated more than necessary and Turkey will overcome these challenges with its own resources," he added.
Turkey’s central bank raised its benchmark rate by a hefty 625 basis points this month, boosting the lira and possibly easing investor concern over Erdoğan's influence on monetary policy.
Erdoğan said the decision was a clear sign of the central bank's independence, adding that as president he was against increasing rates.
He also said Turkey will continue to purchase Iranian natural gas, despite U.S. sanctions on Tehran.