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