Donald Trump received Pastor Andrew Brunson at the White House the day after his release after two years in detention. The President of the United States predicts “good or excellent” relations between his country and Turkey after the resolution of this important diplomatic conflict.
Trump thanked his counterpart, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, “for his help”. Such remarks are at odds with those previously held by the President against the Turkish head of state.
Erdogan quickly ducked Donald Trump’s compliments, saying that Andrew Brunson’s release stemmed from an independent decision of the Turkish judiciary without his intervention.
After a medical arrest in Germany, Pastor Brunson landed Saturday in Washington with his wife, Norine, and then visited the US president in the Oval Office of the White House in the afternoon.
The pastor said he asked God to give Donald Trump “supernatural wisdom”. He also told the president, “You really fought for us. ”
“It will be wonderful to see him and meet him. He’s a great Christian who has had such a difficult experience, “Donald Trump wrote on Twitter before the meeting.
US Ambassador Richard Grenell welcomed him during his stopover. The diplomat tweeted that the pastor was “almost at home” thanks to Donald Trump.
When I introduced him to the American flag, he immediately kissed him.
US Ambassador Richard Grenell
Mr Brunson, who has been living in Turkey for more than 20 years, was jailed for 21 months and then transferred to house arrest last July. Its history has created a diplomatic crisis between Ankara and Washington.
He was accused of having links with Kurdish separatists and supporters of Fetullah Gülen, a Turkish opponent who has been a refugee since 1999 in the United States and to whom Ankara blames the failed coup of July 2016.
“A necessary but insufficient step”
Tensions with the United States have had dramatic effects recently in Turkey. The financial crisis has been aggravated by a rapid devaluation of the lira, the country’s currency, and a calming of relations with US power should have a positive effect on the economy.
On the American side, the release of Pastor Brunson will certainly allow Donald Trump and the Republican Party to score very important points among evangelical Christians, just weeks before the mid-term elections.
In addition to the Brunson affair, relations between the two NATO member states have been undermined by US support for Kurdish rebels in northern Syria, but also by the Turkish command of a Russian missile defense system and the arrest in the United States of a Turkish banker suspected of violations of the sanctions imposed on Iran. Ankara also demands the extradition of Fetullah Gülen.
For Jon Alterman, director of the Middle East section at the Washington Center for Strategic and International Studies, the pastor’s release is “a necessary step, but far from enough to bridge the gap between the states. United States and Turkey “.
A former NASA member with Turkish and American nationalities is still being held in Turkey for terrorism and three local employees of the US consulate have also been arrested.
“We hope the Turkish government will quickly release other US citizens detained and locally employed @StateDept staff,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote on Twitter.