Pompeo Says U.S May Hold Talks With Turkey on Pastor This Week

(Bloomberg) -- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. may hold more talks with Turkey on a U.S. pastor the country is holding and he could be released this month.

A State Department official said afterward that Pompeo didn’t have any particular information that the pastor, Andrew Brunson, would be released by the end of the month and his comment was only expressing his frustration about the fact that Brunson should have been released long ago.

The Turkish lira extended gains to trade at its highest level in the session after Pompeo’s remarks Monday in New York amid expectations that tensions between the U.S. and Turkey would ease after the pastor’s release. The lira jumped as much as 3.8 percent against the dollar after the news before paring some of its gains.

“Yes, he could be released this month,” Pompeo said in response to a question about Brunson’s release at a press briefing during the United Nations annual meeting of world leaders. “He should’ve been released last month, and he should be released today.”

“I’m sure there will be some conversations this week in furtherance of that,” Pompeo added “But make no mistake, there’d be nothing that we would share with them here that we haven’t already shared with them already about President Trump’s demands.”

Turkey’s lira had already gained the most among emerging markets amid speculation Brunson could be released next month, ending a dispute between the NATO allies that has wreaked havoc on the currency.

A local court could free Brunson, currently under house arrest in the coastal town of Izmir, when he appears for a hearing on Oct. 12, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing Turkish officials it did not name.

The U.S. imposed sanctions on Turkey in August over the pastor’s detention, and has threatened to follow suit with more punitive measures if he is not set free, compounding a 40 percent depreciation in the lira this year. Brunson was arrested in the wake of a 2016 coup attempt in Turkey and is being charged for aiding terrorist groups.

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