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August 8, 2018 10:19 am

Turkish Delegation to Meet With US State Department Officials

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan greets his supporters from the balcony of his ruling AK Party headquarters in Ankara, June 25, 2018. Photo: Kayhan Ozer / Presidential Palace / Handout via Reuters.

A Turkish delegation will meet with top officials from the US State and Treasury departments on Wednesday, part of a visit to Washington this week to address growing friction between the NATO allies fueled by Ankara’s detention of an American evangelical pastor.

“We can confirm that a Turkish delegation will meet with State Department officials today,” US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said on Wednesday. “The meeting will be led by our deputy secretary, John Sullivan.”

Sullivan, the number two official at State, will host a meeting with Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal in the late morning, according to a schedule the department published on Wednesday.

Separately, a US Treasury official said: ““I can confirm Treasury officials are meeting with the Turkish delegation today.”

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The two countries remain at odds on the core US demand that Ankara free pastor Andrew Brunson.

At a briefing on Tuesday, Nauert confirmed that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke to his Turkish counterpart on Monday but said the two sides had not reached agreement on the release of Brunson. The pastor had been imprisoned by Turkey since October 2016 but was released to house arrest in late July.

Trade issues and differences on Syria have also strained the two countries’ relationship.

Washington is reviewing Turkey’s duty-free access to US markets, while Ankara has imposed retaliatory tariffs on US goods in response to American steel and aluminum tariffs. The US review could affect $1.7 billion of Turkish exports.

The diplomatic dispute has hurt foreign investor confidence in Turkey, which relies on overseas capital to fund its widening current account deficit. The Turkish currency, the lira, has collapsed this year, putting pressure on banks and corporations.

The lira on Wednesday weakened to 5.3 against the dollar, hovering close to the record low it reached on Monday, 5.4250 per dollar.

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