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US lifts sanctions on 2 top Turkish officials

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The United States said on Friday it had lifted sanctions imposed on two top officials in Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s cabinet, a sign of improved relations after Turkey freed an American pastor from detention three weeks ago, Reuters reported on Friday.

The United States had imposed sanctions on Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül and Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu in August over the case of American pastor Andrew Brunson.

Turkey promptly matched the move on Friday by lifting sanctions on two corresponding US cabinet secretaries upon who it had imposed sanctions in retaliation.

Brunson, who had lived in Turkey for more than 20 years, had been accused of aiding the Gülen movement, which the Turkish refers to as a terrorist organization, as well as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the People’s Protection Units (YPG). He was allowed to return to the United States in October after two years of detention and standing trial.

Erdoğan and US President Donald Trump had discussed improving frosty relations between Washington and Ankara during a call between the two leaders, the Turkish presidency said on Thursday.

The White House did not have any immediate comment on the lifting of the sanctions.

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