US President Donald Trump welcomed Evangelical Minister Andrew Brunson, freed from Turkish custody, in the Oval Office on Saturday. Brunson, accused by Ankara of supporting the 2016 coup attempt and facing with 35 years of imprisonment, was freed after it was reported that the US State Department would reportedly ease US economic pressure on Ankara.
"I want to congratulate you because you have galvanized this country […] I know what you have gone through […] It is not an easy situation for Turkey either," Trump said, welcoming the minister to the White House.
Speaking before an audience, Trump thanked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for making the return of Brunson — who has lived and preached in Turkey for over two decades — possible, after the minister was imprisoned in the Middle Eastern nation for two years.
"Lord God, I ask that you pour out your Holy Spirit on President Trump, that you give him supernatural wisdom to accomplish all the plans you have for this country and for him," Brunson said, cited by Buzzfeed.
"I ask that you give him wisdom in how to lead this country into righteousness. I ask that you give him perseverance and endurance and courage to stand for truth. I ask that you protect him from slander from enemies, from those who would undermine," he continued.
My video in the Oval Office of Pastor Brunson who prays with Trump. pic.twitter.com/qcpDTu0trv— Sonia Dridi (@Sonia_Dridi) 13 октября 2018 г.
Answering journalists' questions, the US president denied that there was any deal with Ankara regarding Brunson's release, but did not elaborate whether the US would lift economic sanctions from Ankara in the near future.
"The only deal, if you could call it a deal, is a psychological one. We feel much differently about Turkey today than we did yesterday, and I think we have a chance of really becoming much closer to Turkey," Trump told reporters.
"We do not pay ransom in this country," he added, cited by Talkingpointsmemo.com.
Trump intimated that punitive measures against Riyadh for Khashoggi's killing would not include breaking a major $110 billion arms deal with the Middle Eastern nation.
"I actually think we'd be punishing ourselves if we did that," Trump told reporters at the White House on Saturday. "If they don't buy it from us, they're going to buy it from Russia or they're going to buy it from China. Think of that, $110 billion, all they're going to do is give it to other countries, and I think that would be very foolish."
"There are other ways of punishing," Trump said, cited by the New York Times.
Evangelical Minister Andrew Brunson was released from Turkish custody Friday and taken to Ramstein US Air Force base in Germany, where he was given a medical examination. Following the procedure, the pastor was flown to US soil on Saturday.