US move to lift sanctions on Turkey 'important stage'

By Aynur Ekiz

ANKARA (AA) – A recent move by the U.S. to lift sanctions on two Turkish ministers is an important step for normalizing strained ties between the two countries, Turkey's ruling party spokesman said.

Speaking after a Justice and Development (AK) Party meeting, Omer Celik said the U.S. decision to lift sanctions on Turkish justice and interior ministers was taken during a recent phone call between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump.

“These decisions [sanctions] were lifted mutually at around 4:30 p.m. Turkish time [1330GMT]," Celik said.

"It is an important stage for the future normalization process,” he added.

On Thursday, Erdogan and Trump had a phone conversation.

The U.S. Treasury Department said on Friday the blacklisting of ministers Abdulhamit Gul and Suleyman Soylu has been lifted.

In a tit-for-tat move, Turkey also removed sanctions on U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, the Foreign Ministry said.

The U.S. had imposed sanctions on the ministers amid a row about pastor Andrew Brunson, an American cleric who was detained in Turkey on terrorism charges. He was released last month.

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