Turkey hopes that the escalating tensions with the United States over terror-linked U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson will be resolved through dialogue, yet the country is ready to retaliate to sanctions imposed by the Trump administration if needed, an official from the Turkish government said late Wednesday.
The official speaking to Habertürk daily on the condition of anonymity, said that the Turkish side hopes common sense and dialogue would prevail in the ways to solve problems between the two countries.
"We are negotiating with our U.S. counterparts at the moment, which continue in a positive atmosphere. Both sides have reiterated their willingness to preserve good diplomatic relations," the official added.
"Nevertheless, we will retaliate against sanctions on a reciprocal basis if we need to."
The U.S. Treasury on Wednesday issued sanctions against Turkish officials including Minister of Justice Abdülhamit Gül and Minister of Interior Süleyman Soylu in retaliation over Turkey's detainment of Brunson.
The statement issued by the Treasury said Gül and Soylu were targeted due to their "leading roles in the organizations responsible for the arrest and detention of Pastor Andrew Brunson."
Brunson, who was previously jailed for his links to the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) and the PKK, was released on July 25 following an appeal by his lawyer, who objected his extended detention in an earlier hearing, citing health problems the 50-year-old defendant suffers from.
The Second High Criminal Court in Izmir ordered his house arrest and a ban on travel abroad for the pastor.
Brunson, a Christian pastor from North Carolina who has lived in Turkey for more than two decades, was indicted on charges of helping the FETÖ, which is responsible for the failed 2016 coup, as well as supporting the PKK terrorist organization.
The case of Brunson, who was a pastor at the Diriliş (Resurrection) Protestant Church in Izmir, has been a thorny issue between Turkey and the U.S. Washington has repeatedly called for the release of Brunson, claiming he was "unjustly detained."
The Turkish government has repeatedly told Washington that Brunson's case is being handled by the courts and the government cannot intervene.
Brunson was arrested after a secret witness in a criminal probe into FETÖ testified against him while authorities were preparing to deport Brunson and his wife Norine Lyn for "involvement in actions threatening national security."
He is scheduled to appear before a court in October for his third hearing after the court rejected an appeal for his release in a July 18 hearing.
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