Top Turkish official to head to US as strains bash lira
Istanbul (AFP) –
A senior Turkish diplomat is to lead a delegation to Washington for talks in the next days, state media said on Tuesday, as Ankara seeks to defuse a crisis with the United States that has pushed the lira to record lows.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal will travel to Washington for the talks, the state-run Anadolu news agency said. NTV television said he would be joined by officials from the justice and energy ministries.
The NATO allies have slapped reciprocal sanctions on two senior officials on both sides in the row over the detention in Turkey for almost two years of pastor Andrew Brunson.
The row is seen by analysts as one of the most severe between Turkey and the United States since the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974 and comes on top of a host of other issues causing strain.
The tensions have pushed the already battered Turkish lira to new record lows, with the currency crashing some five percent against the dollar on Monday.
The lira has lost 15 percent against the dollar in the last month alone.
The Hurriyet newspaper reported that Turkey and the United States had reached a preliminary agreement over "certain issues" in the crisis and the details would be finalised in the delegation's visit.
There was no official confirmation that such an agreement existed.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu meanwhile held telephone talks with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Turkish media said, without giving further details.
But the reports helped the lira to rally slightly against the dollar, gaining 1.2 percent to trade at 5.3 lira to the dollar. Last week the lira had broken through 5 lira to the dollar for the first time as the sanctions were announced.
The US embassy in Ankara meanwhile issued an unusual statement dismissing as "unfounded and disturbing" reports in Turkish media which it said cited a US official as predicting the lira would hit 7 to the dollar.
"This is a fabricated and baseless lie," said the embassy.
"Despite the current tensions, the United States counts Turkey as a solid friend and ally. Our countries have a vibrant economic relationship," it added.
US investment bank Goldman Sachs earlier warned in a note that a further drop in the lira to 7.1 to the dollar "could largely erode" the excess capital of Turkish banks.
© 2018 AFP