Erdoğan says Trump is ‘late’ in trying to improve relations

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US President Donald Trump (L) and Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan / AFP PHOTO

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday said US President Donald Trump’s remarks on Turkish-American relations were “late” in coming, the Cumhuriyet daily reported.

Trump said on Oct. 13 that he looks forward to improved relations with Turkey, hours after American pastor Andrew Brunson arrived back in the US to a White House welcome following his release from detention in Turkey.

“We were very tough on Turkey, and we’ll take a look,” he said, concerning the economic sanctions against Ankara imposed over Brunson’s case.

“It is a late statement,” Erdoğan said in Ankara when journalists brought up Trump’s remarks.

A Turkish court on Oct. 12 convicted Brunson of aiding terrorism but sentenced him to time served and ordered his immediate release.

The case of the evangelical preacher caught up in Turkey’s post-coup security sweep had garnered the attention at the highest levels of the US administration and had become a sore point in the two countries’ relations.

In recent months the administration made Brunson’s release a priority. In August Trump doubled tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum imports and sanctioned two senior Turkish officials over Turkey’s refusal to free Brunson, leading to a plunge in the value of the country’s currency.

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