19:16 GMT +316 October 2018
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    Andrew Craig Brunson, an evangelical pastor from Black Mountain, North Carolina, arrives at his house in Izmir, Turkey.

    Pompeo: Releasing Pastor Would Be 'Important Step' for Improving US-Turkish Ties

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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - American Pastor Andrew Brunson is scheduled to appear on October 12 in a Turkish court regarding his detention over allegations of involvement in the 2016 coup. Earlier this month, Brunson’s attorney appealed to the Turkish Constitutional Court demanding that his client be released from house arrest.

    US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told an audience at a Jewish security institute that it would be an important step in improving US-Turkish relations if Ankara released American Pastor Andrew Brunson at his next court hearing on Friday.

    "It’s an important step," Pompeo said on Wednesday when asked how the release of Brunson would affect overall US-Turkish relations. Pompeo said he was hopeful Brunson and his wife will soon be able to return to the United States. "It is the right thing for them to do, it is the humanitarian thing for Turkey to do."

    Brunson's arrest significantly dampened US-Turkish relations. The pastor was detained in 2016 over his alleged ties to the movement of Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, which Turkey holds responsible for orchestrating the failed military coup of 2016. The pastor was released from prison in late July, only to be moved to house arrest.

    The United States later imposed sanctions on Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul and Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, accusing them of human rights violations.

    READ MORE: 'Just the Start': US-Turkey F-35 Row May Be Followed by Sanctions — Prof

    Another wave of tensions between the two countries occurred following the decision of US President Donald Trump to authorize the doubling of previously imposed import tariffs on Turkish aluminum and steel to 20 percent and 50 percent, respectively. The US move resulted in the Turkish lira hitting a historic low. Turkey in response to the US decision increased tariffs on 22 types of US goods worth $533 million. In particular, the country introduced higher levies on US cars, alcohol, fruit, cosmetics and tobacco.

    Related:

    Brunson's Attorney Appeals to Top Turkish Court for Pastor's Release - Reports
    Erdogan: US Using Pastor Brunson Issue as Pretext to Impose Sanctions
    Turkish Police Boost Security Around US Pastor Brunson's House - Reports
    Pence Demands Turkey Release Jailed US Pastor Brunson, Warns of Consequences
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    sanctions, trial, release, pastor, ties, Mike Pompeo, Andrew Brunson, Turkey, United States
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