US threatens more Turkey sanctions if pastor not freed

2003
US threatens more Turkey sanctions if pastor not freed

WASHINGTON: The US warned Thursday it would levy more sanctions on the troubled Turkish economy if Ankara does not soon release a jailed American pastor described by President Donald Trump as a “hostage.”
Deepening a spat that has rattled financial markets and threated to split a long-standing defense and political alliance, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin suggested the next spiral of tit-for-tat sanctions was coming soon.
“We have put sanctions on several of their cabinet members,” Mnuchin told President Donald Trump in a cabinet meeting attended by the press, including foreign news agency.
“We have more that we are planning to do if they don´t release him quickly.”
Trump prefaced Mnuchin´s remarks by saying that Turkey had not been a very good friend to America.
Referring to imprisoned pastor Andrew Brunson, Trump said “they have a great Christian pastor there, he´s a very innocent man.”
He later tweeted that the Protestant clergyman, who has been detained since 2016 when he was arrested in a government crackdown following a failed coup bid, was a “great patriot” being held “hostage.”
Christian evangelicals constitute an important part of Trump´s political base.
The threat comes as Turkey sought to reassure investors rattled by the sanctions-fueled crash of the Turkish lira, insisting the country would emerge stronger.
Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, the son-in-law of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, addressed hundreds of foreign investors from the United States, Europe and Asia via a conference call in a bid to soothe the markets.
The lira has clawed back some ground over the last two days — after losing almost a quarter of its value on Friday and Monday — but economists are warning that Turkey must urgently address its economic imbalances to avoid more troubles ahead.
“Turkey will emerge stronger from these (currency) fluctuations,” Albayrak was quoted by state-run TRT television as saying during the conference call.
Albayrak rejected seeking a bailout from the IMF, an option never seen as likely given that Erdogan often boasts of paying off Turkey´s past IMF debts in May 2013.
The lira, which earlier this week traded at well over seven to the dollar, held onto its gains during Albayrak´s discussion, trading at 5.7 against the greenback.
“We will turn this crisis into an opportunity,” said Erdogan´s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin after a cabinet meeting chaired by the president, saying measures taken so far had helped bring about a “rapid improvement process” over the last two days. …Agencies

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