President Trump’s securing the release of an American pastor held in Turkey could have a huge impact on defense relations within NATO. The Washington Examiner:
Key senators indicated Friday that Turkey’s release of U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson could help ease tensions that have threatened the sale of F-35 joint strike fighters to Ankara.
Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., spearheaded legislation suspending transfers of the jets over the imprisonment of the pastor on terrorism charges, and said his release after a court hearing Friday was a positive development.
The detention, along with Turkey’s plans to buy a Russian S-400 missile defense system, had outraged Tillis and other lawmakers including Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., who targeted Ankara’s plans to purchase 100 of the F-35s and manufacture components of the aircraft.
“We pursued a number of diplomatic and policy channels that kept the pressure on. The Turkish government ultimately made the right decision, which will undoubtedly help improve U.S.-Turkey relations moving forward,” Tillis said in a statement.
This is welcome news, since Turkey remains a critical ally in the fight against terrorism and is a large contributor to NATO.