U.S. threatens more action against Turkey unless pastor freed

17 August, 2018, 23:24 | Author: Regina Silva
  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Brunson has now found himself in the middle of a diplomatic spat between the two countries, with US President Donald Trump authorizing new tariffs on steel an aluminium last week to put pressure on Ankara.

Finance Minister Berat Albayrak assured global investors on Thursday that Turkey would emerge stronger from its currency crisis, insisting its banks were healthy and signalling it could ride out the dispute with the United States.

The currency has lost almost 40 percent against the dollar this year, driven by worries over Erdogan's growing influence on the economy and his repeated calls for lower interest rates despite high inflation.

The US has threatened to impose more economic sanctions on Turkey if it does not free a detained American pastor.

The embattled currency weakened in early London trading, with one dollar buying 5.86 lira, but has just recovered to 5.8, up 0.26%. Turkey and Qatar - which is also a very close U.S. ally - have become close economic and political partners in recent times.

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.

Trump said the United States had helped Turkey in a related incident, but that the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally had not repaid the favor. U.S. officials maintain there is no credible evidence against Brunson, and the Trump administration has negotiated for weeks to secure his release. He later tweeted that the clergyman was a "great patriot" being held "hostage".

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Moscow was working on retaliatory measures, added Ryabkov, saying the Russian leadership would decide whether to hit back. Such commentaries are not statements on official positions, but can be read as a reflection of government thinking.

Turkey is struggling to stabilize its currency after it plunged to a record low in a crisis that spurred fears of bankruptcies and a spillover effect in other emerging markets if Turkish firms can't pay back high foreign debt.

Gallego said that Brunson's lawyer had indicated he would be willing to take his client's case to the constitutional court. Brunson's lawyer said he would appeal again in 15 days.

Turkey has been hit by a currency crisis fuelled by a heated row with the United States.

"They can't take our people", the president said, calling Brunson a "wonderful Christian pastor".

On Wednesday, in retaliation, Turkey increased tariffs on several USA -origin products, including alcohol and tobacco products and cars.

Economists gave Mr Albayrak's presentation a qualified welcome and the lira subsequently held firm.


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