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US official to visit Turkey to discuss Russia sanctions, Hamas: report

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A top US Treasury official is set to visit Turkey next week for talks on American sanctions against Russian entities and the illicit activities of Palestinian militant group Hamas, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the discussions.

Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson is expected to meet with his Turkish counterparts in his second visit to Ankara this year, Bloomberg said, citing people who asked not to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter.

Nelson will ask for Turkish compliance with unilateral US sanctions against a number of Russian entities and Hamas’s financial activities, according to the Bloomberg report. The US Treasury last month expanded a list of sanctioned individuals in Turkey that it said provided a front for Hamas, which is designated a terrorist organization by the US and the European Union.

Spokespeople for the US Treasury and the Turkish government declined to comment.

Washington has imposed sanctions on about a dozen Turkish firms and some individuals for running an investment portfolio on behalf of Hamas or helping Russia evade sanctions. The US has also warned a number of Turkish companies about possible sanctions that may disrupt their ties with the Western financial system, the people said.

‘Key component’

Turkish-listed real estate investment trust Trend Gayrimenkul Yatırım Ortaklığı was designated as part of the Palestinian militant group’s investment portfolio last year.

The US said the REIT was a “key component of Hamas’s global asset holdings.” Some shareholders of the company were recently sanctioned for allegedly providing support to the militant group. The entity’s shares have risen more than 30 percent in İstanbul trading this year, in line with a local index of its peers.

Nelson’s visit highlights the new challenges facing the already strained relationship between Turkey and the US. The Turkish government doesn’t see Hamas as a terrorist organization, and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan recently described the group as an organization fighting for the liberation of the Palestinian people.

New warplanes

Turkey is seeking to repair ties with Washington and secure President Joe Biden’s backing for its purchase of F-16 fighter jets and the upgrade of its existing fleet.

Washington is also concerned about Turkey’s refusal to join unilateral US sanctions imposed on Russian vessels which make port calls in Turkey and Russian airlines that receive ground services at Turkish airports, the people said.

Turkey, which implements United Nations sanctions on Russia, is refusing to join unilateral punitive actions declared by the US and EU on grounds that it would complicate its self-declared mediation efforts between Russia and Ukraine.

Still, Turkey has taken some steps to ease Western concerns. In March, it stopped the transit of goods sanctioned by the EU and the US to Russia, though the decision was never announced publicly.

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