U.S. threatens more sanctions in Turkey crisis World News

Daniel Fowler
August 18, 2018

Tit-for-tat tariffs by the United States and China on another $16 billion of each other's goods are due to kick in next week, and President Donald Trump has threatened to go after even more Chinese imports in the future.

The Turkish lira weakened to 5.86 against the dollar on Friday from its previous close of 5.8150 as investors weighed up a USA warning that Turkey should expect more economic sanctions unless it hands over detained American pastor Andrew Brunson. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Trump in cabinet on Thursday that more sanctions were ready if Brunson were not freed.

The President also sent a message directly to Pastor Andrew through Twitter, calling him a "wonderful Christian pastor" and letting Pastor Andrew know that he considers him a "patriot hostage".

A Turkish court on Friday rejected Andrew Brunson's request to leave the country. "Our relations with Turkey are not good at this time!"

Whatever action the United States takes looks likely to cause more pain for Turkish assets. Mr Trump, who counts evangelical Christians among his core supporters, has increasingly championed the pastor's case.

"Turkey's been a problem for a long time", Trump told reporters as he departed the White House on Friday for a fundraiser in NY. "He's an innocent man".

But according to Middle East Eye, Turkish diplomats said they could release Brunson anyway, subject to further concessions from the United States which could soothe diplomatic tensions and helping alleviate the diplomatic and economic crisis.

Though Turkey's financial troubles did not originate with the battle over Brunson's release, the moves have sped up the Turkish economy's decline.

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Turkey has sought to persuade the United States to spare Turkey's state-owned Halkbank from a threatened fine for allegedly helping Iran evade U.S. sanctions.

Supporters of Brunson, who ran a small church in the Turkish coastal city of Izmir, say allegations that he was linked to Kurdish rebels as well as Turkish cleric and alleged coup plotter Fethullah Gulen are absurd.

"They missed a big opportunity. They can't take our people".

"We will never be happy with having issues with the U.S. We can easily solve problems with the U.S. but not with its current mindset", he said.

The dispute over Mr Brunson and other frictions between Washington and Ankara have been one reason the Turkish lira has plunged 40 percent this year.

Mr Albayrak said Turkey's banks are "healthy and strong" and that implementing structural reforms and maintain tight monetary policy to fight inflation remain a priority. Mr Erdogan has cast the tariffs, and the lira's sell-off, as an "economic war" against Turkey.

Mr Trump, who has doubled steel and aluminum tariffs on Turkey, said the steel tariffs had kicked in and the aluminium tariffs would take effect soon.

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