American pastor Andrew Brunson, who was released by the Turkish authorities after two years in connection to a coup d'etat case, has arrived here and met with President Donald Trump at the White House.
Lauding the Christian evangelist for displaying resilience in the last two years, CNN quoted Trump as saying, "I just want to congratulate you because you have galvanised this country. There's so much interest, and it's your faith, it's your strength, what you've done, gone through."
He also thanked his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan for facilitating Brunson's return, saying "it was not easy".
In response, Brunson said, "We especially want to thank the administration, they really fought for us, unusually so. From the time you took office, I know that you've been engaged."
"We're so grateful to so many people in Congress who stood with us and who prayed for us and fought for us, so we want to thank you," he added.
On Friday, a Turkish court ordered his release and dropped charges against him. The pastor, who ran Ressurection Church in Turkey, was arrested two years ago for allegedly helping terrorist groups in carrying out the 2016 coup d'etat in a bid to overthrow Erdogan.
Before meeting with Brunson, Trump had refuted reports that the pastor was released based on a deal between the US and Turkey.
"There was NO DEAL made with Turkey for the release and return of Pastor Andrew Brunson. I don't make deals for hostages. There was, however, great appreciation on behalf of the United States, which will lead to good, perhaps great, relations between the United States & Turkey!" the US President wrote on Twitter.
After being released, Brunson boarded an American military plane for home, where he stopped in Germany en-route for a medical check-up.
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