Sunday, 19 August, 2018

Turkey, US in diplomatic crisis after ministers hit by sanctions

Turkish opposition head calls US sanctions 'not right' Turkey rejects US pastor Andrew Brunson's appeal, shrugs off Donald Trump sanctions threat
| 02 August, 2018, 13:38

The Turkish lira slid to a record low Wednesday after the White House announced it would sanction the country over the detention of a US pastor, dealing a fresh blow to what has been one of this year's worst-performing currencies.

"There is no doubt that this will greatly damage constructive efforts working to solve the issues between the two countries", the foreign ministry said in a statement.

In announcing the sanctions against Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul and Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, the Treasury Department said the two had "played leading roles in the organizations responsible for the arrest and detention of Pastor Andrew Brunson".

"The aggressive attitude of the US serves no objective", it said in a statement, adding that Turkey would reciprocate "without delay".

The sanctions freeze any property or assets on U.S. soil held by the two ministers, and bar United States citizens from doing business with them.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has long cited a separation of powers to say that he has no control over his country's judiciary, although in the past he has expressed an interest in trading "pastors" with the United States.


But on Wednesday he vowed Turkey would not give in to threats from the United States, accusing Washington of showing an "evangelist, Zionist mentality". "A historic rupture", added the opposition Cumhuriyet. Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo thought they had a deal to get Brunson's release last month. Relations between the United States and Turkey have plummeted over Brunson, who was in custody for 21 months in a Turkish prison until he was transferred to house arrest last week.

The court trying Brunson has repeatedly refused to allow him to go free.

A Turkish minister has defiantly mocked US sanctions against him, saying his only asset in the United States is a USA -based Muslim cleric whom Turkey blames for a failed coup and wants extradited. He faces up to 35 years in jail if convicted.

Trump, who met with Erdogan last month at a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Brussels, believed he had made a deal with the Turkish leader that included releasing Brunson in exchange for a Turkish woman being held in Israel on terrorism charges.

Turkey is also angry at the United States for its refusal to extradite Gulen, who lives in exile in rural Pennsylvania and vehemently denies that he masterminded the failed 2016 coup bid. The currency has lost four percent against the dollar in the last week alone.

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