U.S.-Turkey ties dependent on prisoners’ release

The United States and Turkey are going through a difficult period in their relations and Turkey needs to release U.S. citizens from jail to see an improvement, said Philip Kosnett, the U.S. Embassy Charge D’affaires in Ankara.

The United States wants detained citizens including Pastor Andrew Brunson and its local consular staff freed from jail in order for relations to progress, Kosnett said, according to Hurriyet Daily News.

“There is a similar sense of unity between Congress and the administration that in order for the relationship between Turkey and the U.S. to progress we need to resolve that status not only for Brunson but also for other American citizens and local Turkish employees of U.S. missions who we feel are detained unjustly under the state of emergency,” Kosnett said in Ankara when asked about the outcome of a rvisit of senators to Ankara last week to seek the release of the pastor.

Congress has called for the Trump administration to halt sales of F16 stealth fighter jets to Turkey, citing the imprisonment of Brunson and Turkish plans to buy S-400 air defence missiles from Russia. The State Department has said the planes will not be sold should Turkey take delivery of the Russian missiles.

“Of course, there are many other issues between the U.S. and Turkey, but we think that resolving these cases will certainly improve the atmosphere and prospects for progress in other areas, just as the progress that the two governments had made in building new security arrangements in northern Syria, starting with Manbij, has helped to set a positive tone for the relationship more broadly,” Kosnett said at the U.S. National Day reception in Ankara on July 2, according to Hurriyet.

Two senior members of the Senate -- Lindsey Graham and Jeanne Shaheen – visited Ankara in a previously undisclosed trip on June 29 to meet President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a direct appeal for Brunson’s release.