The U.S. and Turkey must be cooperative allies but there can be no functional relationship until American pastor Andrew Brunson is released from Turkish custody, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said Sunday.
Mr. Brunson being held in Turkey on espionage charges. Authorities accuse him of playing a role in the failed 2016 military coup to overthrow Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“We’re not going to have a normal relationship with Turkey until they let Pastor Brunson out,” Mr. Graham, a Republican, told Fox News Sunday. “The charges against him are complete shams. It’s a bogus event regarding Pastor Brunson and others who work for the American embassy. They had nothing to do with trying to topple the government.”
President Trump recently announced the U.S. will double tariffs on steel and aluminum for Turkey, noting the relationship between the two states “are not good at this time!”
The announcement caused the Turkish lira to suffer.
In an editorial for the New York Times, Mr. Erdogan said: “Unless the United States starts respecting Turkey’s sovereignty and proves that it understands the dangers that our nation faces, our partnership could be in jeopardy.”
Mr. Graham said the U.S. relationship with Turkey, a NATO ally that hosts an American air base, can be repaired.
“We need to reset this relationship,” Mr. Graham said. “And the best way to do it is let Pastor Brunson come home and start over.”