Erdogan says will discuss case of ex-Turkish minister with Trump during visit

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday he would discuss with U.S. President Donald Trump next week the case of a former Turkish economy minister indicted in the United States for conspiring to violate U.S. sanctions on Iran.

FILE PHOTO: Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) shakes hands with U.S President Donald Trump as they make statements to reporters in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, U.S. May 16, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Former minister Zafer Caglayan and the ex-head of a state-owned Turkish bank were charged on Wednesday with conspiring to violate U.S. sanctions on Iran by illegally moving hundreds of millions of dollars through the U.S. financial system on Tehran’s behalf.

The indictment marks the first time an ex-government member with close ties to Erdogan has been charged in an investigation that has further strained already difficult ties between Washington and Ankara. Caglayan was also charged with taking bribes in cash and jewelry worth tens of millions of dollars.

“There are truly some problematic issues regarding this period, and the wrongful steps taken by those under President Trump are evidently casting a shadow on Trump’s administration. I don’t think this should be allowed,” Erdogan said in an interview with broadcaster A Haber.

Last week Erdogan said he had told Washington that Turkey had never agreed to comply with its sanctions on Iran, and called on the United States to review the indictment.

He also said Trump had called him and vowed to follow the case more closely.

On Monday Turkey said Caglayan had acted within international law and that charges against him amounted to a coup attempt through American courts.

Relations between Washington and NATO ally Turkey, an important partner in tackling the Syrian conflict, have become more strained following last year’s failed military coup in Turkey and Erdogan’s subsequent crackdown on his opponents.

Ankara is seeking - so far without success - the extradition of a U.S.-based Muslim cleric whom it accuses of orchestrating the coup attempt. The cleric, Fethullah Gulen, denies involvement in the abortive coup.

Erdogan will travel to the United States on Sunday for the United Nations General Assembly in New York and is due to meet Trump on the sidelines of that event.

Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Gareth Jones