Turkey U.S. relations hit road bump following diplomatic spat

U.S. President Donald Trump with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan © Shealah Craighead

As per a source, the newly appointed deputy foreign ministry of Turkey, Sedat Onal, is set to lead a delegation to the United States in order to discuss tensions between the NATO allies.

Turkey-U.S. relations have gradually worsened over Washington’s stand over Syria and the trial of U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson. To top this, a widening trade row has led to the lira hitting its nadir on Monday.

In an earlier news report, CNN Turk had stated, Turkey and the United States had reached a preliminary agreement on certain issues and a Turkish delegation would visit the U.S. to iron out burrs.

“Our deputy foreign minister Sedat Onal will head the delegation,” said a source, without elaborating, on the condition of anonymity.

The United States has demanded that Turkey release Brunson, an evangelical pastor who has stayed in the country for more than two decades and who has been charged with supporting a group that has been blamed for an attempted coup in 2016.

Brunson has denied the charge against him

The diplomatic row escaled last week with Washington imposing sanctions on President Tayyip Erdogan’s interior minister and justice minister, saying they had played a key role in Brunson’s arrest. Erdogan has countered the U.S. sanctions by saying, Turkey will retaliate against the sanctions.

Over the weekend, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) said it was reviewing Turkey’s duty-free access to the U.S. market, following Ankara imposition of retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods in response to U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum. The move could affect $1.7 billion of Turkish exports. Any U.S. move on Turkey is likely to have significant geo-political consequences for the U.S.

Despite Washington’s posturing on diplomatic and trade ties, the U.S. Embassy in Ankara has let it be known that the United States continues to be Turkey’s ally and that the two have an active economic relationship.