WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump plans Saturday to meet with Rev. Andrew Brunson, hours after his administration successfully negotiated the American pastor’s release after being held for two years in Turkey.
Brunson, whose detention caused a deep rift in United States-Turkey relations, is expected to land sometime around noon at Andrews Air Force Base then will meet with Trump at 2:30 p.m. at the White House.
The president posted about their meeting on Twitter Saturday morning.
“Pastor Andrew Brunson, released by Turkey, will be with me in the Oval Office at 2:30 P.M. (this afternoon). It will be wonderful to see and meet him,” Trump said. “He is a great Christian who has been through such a tough experience. I would like to thank President @RT_Erdogan for his help!”
Pastor Andrew Brunson, released by Turkey, will be with me in the Oval Office at 2:30 P.M. (this afternoon). It will be wonderful to see and meet him. He is a great Christian who has been through such a tough experience. I would like to thank President @RT_Erdogan for his help!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 13, 2018
Brunson, a Christian missionary who has lived in Turkey for more than two decades, was arrested in 2016 and accused of plotting to overthrow the government of Turkey, led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He had rejected the allegations.
Trump had clashed with Erdogan over Brunson’s case – going so far as to slap sanctions and tariffs on Turkey earlier this year to pressure the Turkish leader.
Trump re-emphasized Saturday that “no deal” was made with Turkey for Brunson’s release but the matter was a showing of good will that could repair the relationship between both countries.
“I don’t make deals for hostages,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “There was, however, great appreciation on behalf of the United States, which will lead to good, perhaps great, relations between the United States & Turkey!”
Brunson’s successful release Friday is just the latest for the Trump administration, something the president was quick to showcase.
At a rally in Ohio Friday evening, Trump started his remarks celebrating Brunson’s release and talked about his administration’s work to have others released in North Korea, Egypt and Venezuela.
“We bring a lot of people back and that’s good,” the president said.
Brunson, who has family roots in North Carolina, has been under house arrest with his wife Norine – forbidden from leaving his guarded apartment in Izmir, a city on Turkey’s southwest coast.
Brunson previously served 20 months in a Turkish jail. He could have faced up to 35 years in prison. His supporters have said the charges against him are absurd.
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