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White House says Turkish sanctions 'regrettable'

17 August, 2018, 09:12 | Author: Melinda Barton
  • The development comes amid rising tensions between Turkey and its NATO ally

Tensions between the USA and Turkey have been steadily rising since American pastor Andrew Brunson was detained by Turkish officials on charges of terrorism and espionage.

The two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies are at an impasse regarding the detention of an American pastor, differing views on Syria, and Turkey's purchase of Russian military equipment.

Those consequences are US sanctions and a doubling of tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum, announced by President Trump on Friday.

Qatar, backed by Erdogan during the Saudi-led embargoes on the emirate in 2017, on Wednesday pledged to channel $15 billion direct investment into Turkey, a sign of burgeoning ties between the two countries.

Turkey's finance minister sparked a recovery in the lira after he addressed thousands of worldwide investors, pledging to protect beleaguered local banks and cut public spending to prevent the country defaulting on its loans.

The lira lost strength after Mnuchin's remarks.

Al-Thani's visit, the diplomat said, "will serve to confirm the close links between the Qatari and Turkish people and their common positions vis-à-vis the many challenges they face".

Earlier in the day, the currency had shrugged off United States comments ruling out the removal of steel tariffs on Turkey even if it frees an American pastor who lies at the center of the complex feud between Washington and Ankara.

Administration officials said the United States doesn't now have any meetings scheduled with Turkish officials to discuss Brunson's case.

The lira had nosedived in recent weeks, hitting a record low of 7.24 earlier this week, amid a diplomatic and trade dispute with the United States that has exacerbated investor concerns over Turkey's economy.

Turkey's President Erdogan and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron agreed on a meeting between the two countries' finance ministers "as soon as possible."

Cevdet Erdol, president of the Health Sciences University in Istanbul, urged Turks to boycott USA tobacco products and "to stop smoking altogether", according to Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency.

US President Donald Trump last Friday announced he would double tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum, mocking the slide of the Turkish lira on Twitter.

"We got somebody out for him", Trump said.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said additional USA sanctions are ready if Turkey refuses to release an American pastor whom the Trump administration says is illegally detained.

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.

Meanwhile, Mr Trump said that the United States "will pay nothing" to Turkey for the release of detained American pastor Andrew Brunson, who he called "a great patriot hostage".

"The statements that came particularly from German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other German and European Union officials boost the confidence in Turkey ties with Germany and the European Union", it added.


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