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Turkey confirms reports of officials meeting with US counterparts amid row

Trade spat between US and Turkey has sent the lira plunging to a record low
Relations between the two countries have steadily worsened (Reuters)

After initially denying a media report stating that a delegation of Turkish officials was headed to Washingtonto discuss an ongoing row between the two NATO allies, the Turkish foreign ministry confirmed such a move would be occurring later in the week.

Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said the delegation would be headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal.

Relations between the Turkey and the United States have steadily worsened in recent weeks, strained by differences on Syria policy and over the trial of US pastor Andrew Brunson in Turkey.

A trade spat between the two led Turkey's lira currency to nosedive to a record low on Monday. The Turkish currency, which has lost 27 percent of its value this year, fell some 5.5 percent to 5.4250 against the dollar, in its biggest single-day drop in nearly 10 years.

Over the weekend, the US trade representative said it was reviewing Turkey's duty-free access to the US market. This came after Ankara imposed retaliatory tariffs on US goods in response to American tariffs on steel and aluminium - a move that could affect $1.7bn worth of Turkish exports.

On Tuesday, CNN Turk had cited diplomatic sources as saying Ankara and Washington had reached pre-agreements on certain issues, but did not elaborate further. The report was initially denied by Aksoy.

In an interview with Middle East Eye on Monday, Brunson’s lawyer said “the issue has to come to an end”.

Pastor Brunson's lawyer: 'The issue has to come to an end'
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“I think there is a possibility of releasing Andrew Brunson, why not?" he said. "This issue now affects Turkey’s economy and its relationship with other countries, this case has been politicised over one person. It would be better if it comes to an end and both parties would be relieved.”

US President Donald Trump's administration has demanded that Turkey release Brunson, an evangelical pastor who has lived in Turkey for more than two decades and is charged with supporting the group Ankara blames for an attempted coup in 2016.

Last week Washington imposed sanctions on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ministers of justice and interior, saying they played leading roles in organisations responsible for Brunson's arrest.

Erdogan said Turkey would retaliate by freezing assets of the US interior and justice secretaries in Turkey "if they have any".

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