Getting personal: US, Turkish leaders feud over arrest

Aug 19, 2018, 00:34
Getting personal: US, Turkish leaders feud over arrest

Also Friday, Turkey's trade minister said her government would respond in kind to any new trade duties from the United States after U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin said the U.S. could put more sanctions on Turkey if the pastor is not released soon.

Muharrem Bozkurt was upbeat despite the lira crisis: "As we are a country where patriotic sentiments are high, no matter how much the dollar increases, we will get over this".

U.S. President Donald Trump's administration on Thursday signaled new sanctions against Turkey over Brunson's detention and Turkey said it would reciprocate.

In the Turkish courts, Brunson has been unsuccessful in arguing for his release, and on Friday had his latest appeal rejected, according to The Associated Press.

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

The United States and Turkey have imposed tit-for-tat tariffs in an escalating attempt by Trump to induce Erdogan into giving up the pastor. The Harley Davidson executives are said to be fuming with Trump as the company has lost some serious cash in the past three months.

The Turkish government has also complained about what it calls USA support for Kurdish rebel groups fighting in northern Syria, and it has condemned the US refusal to extradite the Pennsylvania-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Turkey has accused of masterminding the 2016 coup attempt. On Wednesday, a court in Izmir, where Brunson is on trial, rejected his appeal to be released from house arrest.

Investors are concerned that Turkey's has amassed high levels of foreign debt to fuel growth in recent years, and as the currency drops, that debt becomes more expensive to repay, leading to potential bankruptcies.

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S&P said the downgrade of the debt rating to "B+" "reflects our expectation that the extreme volatility of the Turkish lira" which will undermine Turkey s economy.

In a brief statement, China's foreign ministry said: "China believes that Turkey has the ability to overcome the temporary economic difficulties, and hopes the relevant sides can ease their differences via dialogue". The feud over Brunson, who was detained in October 2016, has added to the jitters over an economy that grew quickly, with the help of heavy borrowing, in past years.

The rising tensions have caused the value of the lira to plunge by about a third of its value against the dollar since January.

If the evangelical pastor is found guilty, he will face up to 35 years in jail. Kemal Kilicdaroglu, head of the Republican People's Party, said Thursday in Ankara, the capital. "We will pay nothing for the release of an innocent man, but we are cutting back on Turkey!" he tweeted.

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