US Embassy reiterates friendship with Turkey despite tensions

The Embassy of the United States in Ankara has stressed friendship with Turkey despite ongoing tensions, according to a report by the Hürriyet Daily News.

“The United States continues to be a firm friend and ally of Turkey despite current tensions. Our countries have a vibrant economic relationship,” the embassy tweeted on Tuesday.

The embassy also refuted a claim reported by a number of media outlets in Turkey that suggested an “American official” predicted the US dollar would soon be equal to seven Turkish lira. “This is a fabricated, baseless lie,” the embassy said in another tweet.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül has said the İzmir court ruling to put American pastor Andrew Brunson under house arrest after almost two years in pretrial detention was made with “justice, fairness and reason,” the CNN Türk news website reported on Tuesday.

The US imposed sanctions on Gül and Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu over a Turkish court’s decision to move Brunson to house arrest after 22 months of detention on “terrorism” charges.

“Turkey has been a state of law for more than two thousand years. We will get through this period with law and reason. We retaliated by imposing sanctions on their cabinet secretaries, too,” Gül claimed during a panel discussion at İbn Haldun University in İstanbul. “[The US move] is really a laughable choice. This attitude doesn’t comport with the behavior of a major country,” added he.

The Turkish court’s decision has become the focus of a crisis between the US and Turkey, after which both President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence posted angry tweets threatening Turkey with “large sanctions.”

The crisis affected the Turkish economy immediately, causing losses in Turkish lira, which hit 5,40 to the US dollar on Monday. Following a decision to hold a meeting in Washington between Turkish and US officials, the lira firmed to 5,25 on Tuesday.

It was earlier reported that Turkey and the US reached a preliminary agreement concerning the arrest and trial of American pastor Andrew Brunson, which led to sanctions imposed by the US on two Turkish ministers.

According to sources speaking to the Hürriyet daily, the agreement covers “certain subjects,” and a Turkish delegation is scheduled to visit Washington, D.C., in the coming days to “finalize the details.”

The Turkish delegation will be headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Önal, a ministry official told the Hürriyet Daily News.

Brunson, who led a Protestant church in the Aegean city of İzmir, is at the center of one of the most serious crises in relations between the NATO allies in years.

The pastor was moved to house arrest last month after nearly two years in pretrial detention on charges of “terrorism” and “espionage,” but the move only increased tensions.

The US responded to the failure to fully free Brunson by hitting two top Turkish ministers with sanctions, prompting Ankara to announce a similar measure.

Moreover, the pro-government Yeni Şafak newspaper on Tuesday wrote that a coup memorandum of July 15, 2015 was written by a person named “John,” claiming that it could refer to either then-US ambassador to Turkey John Bass or Col. John Walker, then-commander of the 39th Air Base Wing at Incirlik Airbase in Turkey’s Adana province.

According to the daily, digital information obtained from an e-mail saved by non-commissioned officer Hüseyin Ömür shows that the martial law memorandum was first prepared on July 7 and that final changes were made on July 15 at 22:45. The memorandum was prepared by a user named “John,” and the investigation showed that no such user existed at the time at Turkish military headquarters.

Underlining that it is a new document showing the US was behind the controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016 the daily claimed Turkish officials who are investigating the case directed attention to the names of John Bass and Col. John Walker. Based on his relationship with Turkish putschist Gen. Bekir Ercan Van, the then-commander of İncirlik Airbase, and the content of the memorandum, Turkish officials are focusing on Col. John Walker, the daily wrote.

The story came days after a group of Turkish lawyers applied to the Adana Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office for the arrest of members of the US military at Incirlik Airbase in Adana over their alleged cooperation with the faith-based Gülen movement in the coup attempt. The 60-page criminal complaint names Col. John C. Walker, Col. Michael H. Manion, Col. David Eaglen, Col. David Trucksa, Lt. Col. Timothy J. Cook, Lt. Col. Mack R. Coker, Sgt. Thomas S. Cooper, Sgt. Vegas M. Clark and others deployed to İncirlik Base and asks for their detention. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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