Turkey, US lift sanctions on ministers: Ankara

Turkey, US lift sanctions on ministers: Ankara
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Ankara: Turkey and the United States on Friday lifted sanctions against each others’ ministers, Ankara’s foreign ministry said, as tensions ease between the NATO allies.

In a parallel move to the US Treasury’s decision to remove sanctions against the Turkish justice and interior ministers, ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said it would do the same for US Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen.

Ankara-Washington relations have been strained since the July 2016 failed coup but were hurt further by Turkey’s two-year detention of an American pastor.

The tit-for-tat sanctions were implemented in August during one of the worst diplomatic spats between the NATO allies after a court in the western province of Izmir refused to release Pastor Andrew Brunson and instead placed him under house arrest on July 25.

But ties have improved since Brunson’s release on October 12 and his return to the US.

The US sanctions targeted Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul and Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu under the 2016 Global Magnitsky Act named after Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died in a Moscow jail.

The act allows the US to sanction foreign officials implicated in rights abuses.

The US Treasury department on Friday said on its website that Gul and Soylu had been removed from a list of sanctioned individuals.

But President Donald Trump had also doubled tariffs on Turkish aluminium and steel over Brunson’s detention in August, which badly hurt the Turkish lira.

At one point during the row, the lira reached seven against the US dollar. Since mid-October, but it has rallied and by 1415 GMT Friday, the currency had gained over 1.4 percent against the greenback to 5.41.

Ties have been cooler between Ankara and Washington over the US failure to extradite a Pennsylvania-based Muslim preacher Turkey says ordered the coup bid and American support for a Kurdish militia in Syria against the Islamic State group.

Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday spoke over the phone about Syria after the two countries began joint patrols in the northern Syrian city of Manbij under a deal agreed earlier this year.