Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and U.S. President Donald Trump held a phone call July 16 and discussed a road map for the Syrian city of Manbij, bilateral issues including jailed American pastor Andrew Brunson, who is set to appear in a Turkish court for the third time on July 18, and Fetullah Gülen, whom Turkish authorities want the U.S. to extradite.
Trump and Erdoğan discussed “judicial issues between Turkey and the U.S.” and underlined their determination to improve bilateral relations in all areas, the Turkish presidency said in a written statement.
They “underlined that implementing the Manbij road map will significantly contribute to a solution of the Syrian problem,” said the statement.
Both leaders discussed the agenda of last week’s NATO Summit and “exchanged views with regards to developments in Syria,” said the presidency.
Erdoğan, meanwhile, “wished success” for Trump’s upcoming meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.
Pastor Brunson’s hearing set for July 18
The phone call between the two leaders comes just after a Turkey-U.S. Joint Working Group meeting on July 13 in Ankara, where officials discussed “judicial and legal issues.”
The continued detentions of Brunson and two local employees of U.S. diplomatic missions in Turkey are among issues the U.S. State Department has been heavily engaged in. Brunson’s third hearing is set for July 18.
At the working group meeting, the parties also discussed Turkey’s demand for the U.S. to extradite Gülen, the U.S.-based Islamic cleric who is accused of masterminding a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 in Turkey.
Following a visit by former U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Ankara in February, Turkey and the U.S. established a mechanism to address separate issues in working groups, including the stabilization of Manbij and to prevent undesirable clashes in the city.
Under a deal reached between the U.S. and Turkey last month, the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) would withdraw from Manbij and Turkish and U.S. forces would maintain security and stability around the town.