Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal will lead a delegation to Washington, reports say, to discuss an ongoing row between the two NATO allies over differences regarding the trial of US pastor Andrew Brunson in Turkey and also on Syria policy.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal and the delegation are expected to discuss the recent tensions hurting ties between Turkey and the US.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal and the delegation are expected to discuss the recent tensions hurting ties between Turkey and the US. ( AA Archive )

A Turkish delegation led by Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal is set to leave for Washington to discuss an ongoing row between the two NATO allies, Anadolu Agency reported on Tuesday. 

Onal and the delegation are expected to discuss the recent tensions between the two countries.

Ties between the two countries have steadily worsened by differences on Syria policy and over the trial of US pastor Andrew Brunson in Turkey. 

Officials from Turkey's justice, finance and foreign ministries will make up the nine-member delegation going to Washington, broadcaster CNN Turk said on Tuesday.

The first meeting will be held on Wednesday (August 8), CNN Turk reported.

Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and his US counterpart Mike Pompeo spoke over the phone, said Anadolu Agency, quoting a Turkish diplomatic source. 

Cavusoglu and Pompeo discussed bilateral relations and exchanged views on the solutions to the existing problems between the two countries.

US reaffirms 'solid' relations with Turkey

However, the US embassy in Ankara on Tuesday affirmed "solid" relations with Turkey despite recent tensions

"Despite the current tensions, the United States remains a stalwart friend and ally to Turkey; our two nations enjoy a vibrant economic relationship," said the embassy on its Twitter account.

It also dismissed reports about US officials allegedly predicting that the US dollar would reach seven Turkish liras. 

"This is a fabricated, baseless lie."

Reached pre-agreements

A trade spat between the two sent Turkey's lira currency to plunge to a record low on Monday.

Over the weekend, the US Trade Representative said it was reviewing Turkey's duty-free access to the US market, after Ankara imposed retaliatory tariffs on US goods in response to American tariffs on steel and aluminium. 

The move could affect $1.7 billion of Turkish exports.

On Tuesday, broadcaster TRT Haber cited diplomatic sources saying that Ankara and Washington had reached pre-agreements on certain issues, but it did not elaborate.

The Turkish government was not immediately available for comment, and the US State Department did not respond to a request for comment.

Terrorism charges

US President Donald Trump's administration has demanded that Turkey release Brunson, an evangelical pastor who has lived in Turkey for more than two decades.

Brunson, who was recently placed under house arrest, was charged with committing crimes, including spying for the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist group by both the US and Turkey as well as the EU. He is also charged with helping the Fetullah Terrorist Organisation (FETO), the group behind a coup attempt in July 2016.



Andrew Brunson, a Christian pastor from North Carolina, US who has been in jail in Turkey since December 2016, is seen in this undated picture taken in Izmir, Turkey.
Andrew Brunson, a Christian pastor from North Carolina, US who has been in jail in Turkey since December 2016, is seen in this undated picture taken in Izmir, Turkey. ( Reuters )

Last week, Washington imposed sanctions on Turkey's justice minister, Abdulhamit Gul, and interior minister, Suleyman Soylu, saying they played leading roles in organisations responsible for Brunson's arrest.

Erdogan said Turkey would retaliate by freezing assets of the US interior and justice ministers in Turkey "if they have any."

The Turkish currency, which has lost 27 percent of its value this year, fell some 5.5 percent to a record low of 5.4250 against the dollar on Monday, its biggest single-day drop in nearly 10 years.

The lira firmed as far as 5.2625 against the dollar after reports of the delegation going to Washington, and traded at 5.2672 at 2238 GMT. 

Source: TRTWorld and agencies