October 13, 2018 / 7:23 PM / 4 days ago

Trump hails freeing of Brunson as step in Turkey-U.S. relations

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump said the release and return of Andrew Brunson will be a “tremendous” step toward better relations between the United States and Turkey, where the Christian pastor was detained for two years.

President Donald Trump closes his eyes in prayer along with Pastor Andrew Brunson, after his release from two years of Turkish detention, in the Oval Office of the White House, Washington, U.S., October 13, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Theiler

Relations between the two NATO allies have been strained by U.S. support for Kurdish fighters in northern Syria, Turkey’s plans to buy a Russian missile defense system, and the U.S. jailing of an executive at a Turkish state bank in an Iran sanctions-busting case. Brunson, who met with Trump in the Oval Office soon after he arrived in Washington with his wife on Saturday, knelt next to the president in the Oval Office and said a prayer for him.

Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Leslie Adler

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