Turkey demands US reverse sanctions over pastor Andrew Brunson

Turkey demands US reverse sanctions over pastor Andrew Brunson

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo renewed pressure on Turkey Friday to release American Pastor Andrew Brunson.

It is unprecedented for the USA to hit a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally with sanctions.

"They agreed to continue to try to resolve the issues between our two countries", Nauert said.

They said his recent transfer from prison to house arrest was not enough and on Wednesday, the Treasury Department hit Turkey's Justice Minister, Abdulhamit Gul, and Interior Minister, Suleyman Soylu, with sanctions that block any assets they may have in US jurisdictions and bar Americans from doing business with them.

The standoff appears to be one of the most serious crises between Turkey and the United States in modern history, along with the rows over the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus and the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.

Cavusgolu and Pompeo met on the sidelines of a meeting of regional ministers in Singapore.

Turkey's foreign ministry previously said it would retaliate against Washington's decision, calling it a "hostile stance".

The NATO allies are also at odds over the Syrian war, Turkey's plan to buy missile defences from Russian Federation and the USA conviction of a Turkish state bank executive on Iran sanctions-busting charges this year.

"Since the beginning we said that a solution can not be reached by using threatening language and sanctions", the minister added.

"We call on the USA administration to walk back from this wrong decision", it said in a statement on Wednesday.

Brunson, 50, was arrested in 2016 on charges of "committing crimes on behalf of terror groups without being a member" and espionage. Although he was released to home detention, he faces a prison sentence of up to 35 years if he is convicted on both counts at the end of his ongoing trial.

But Brunson's case has resonated with U.S. President Donald Trump and more particularly with Vice President Mike Pence.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has rejected the USA demands, saying his government won't back down and is willing to "go its own way" if the US acted.

Brunson was accused of helping supporters of Fethullah Gulen, the USA -based cleric who Turkish authorities say masterminded the 2016 coup attempt against Erdogan in which 250 people were killed.

The meeting was the first between the countries' officials after Ankara vowed it would respond to sanctions with retaliatory measures.

Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in the U.S. since 1999, has denied any role in the 2016 coup attempt.