USA threatens further retaliation against Turkey over pastor

The Latest: Turkey court rejects release of US pastor | Miami Herald

Trump attacks Turkey, vows to pay 'nothing' for US pastor's release

The Turkish lira weakened to 5.86 against the dollar on Friday from its previous close of 5.8150 as investors weighed up a U.S. warning that Turkey should expect more economic sanctions unless it hands over detained American pastor Andrew Brunson.

Turkey, home to the Incirlik air base which is used by USA forces in the Middle East, has been a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member since the 1950s.

The United States on Wednesday ruled out removing steel tariffs that have contributed to a currency crisis in Turkey even if Ankara frees a U.S. pastor, as Qatar pledged US$15 billion in investment to Turkey, supporting a rise in the Turkish lira.

The leader of Turkey's main opposition party said Erdogan was using the standoff over the evangelical pastor as a "pretext", blaming the United States for economic problems and diverting attention from his own alleged mismanagement.

U.S. President Donald Trump is condemning the detention of an American pastor in Turkey and warned that "we are not going to take it sitting down". Gulen has denied the charges, and the US has rejected every request to force him from his compound in Pennsylvania to stand trial in Turkey.

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Brunson was charged with terror offenses by a Turkish court and has been held since October 2016. Many financial experts say Turkey should raise interest rates to reduce inflation and attract investment, but Erdogan has so far opposed a move he says would curb growth.

Turkey on Friday threatened to respond in kind if Washington imposed further sanctions over the detention of an American pastor which has sparked a diplomatic standoff and battered the Turkish currency.

The Turkish lira has been in a steady slide and reached an all-time low earlier this week. In retaliation, a Turkish court refused to release Brunson, and the Turkish government raised its tariffs on imports of American cars, alcohol and tobacco.

The Turkish president emphasized Turkey's determination to eliminate all threats from Syria and Iraq. Erdogan has in turn slapped sanctions on US goods. "Would the amount of Turkey's debts decrease?"

"We will pay nothing for the release of an innocent man, but we are cutting back on Turkey!"

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It has lost almost 40 per cent of its value against the greenback this year, hit by both the diplomatic rift and investor alarm about President Tayyip Erdogan's influence over monetary policy. Brunson is accused of backing a 2016 coup attempt against Mr Erdogan, which Brunson denies.

Ebbing concerns over the fallout from the Turkish lira's recent slide also helped strengthen the euro against the dollar.

Turkey has repeatedly criticized the US for not condemning the coup attempt two years ago.

The White House stance appeared to give Turkish authorities little incentive to work for the release of Andrew Brunson, a pastor on trial in Turkey on terrorism charges and whose case Turkish officials have said was a matter for the courts.

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