Turkey 'will retaliate' over USA sanctions as crisis grows

Ann Santiago
August 4, 2018

Turkey's lira tumbled to a record low beyond 5 to the dollar on Thursday, after Washington imposed sanctions on two of President Tayyip Erdogan's ministers over the trial of a us pastor accused of backing terrorism.

It is unprecedented for the United States to hit a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally with sanctions.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Friday said he told his USA counterpart Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that threats and sanctions would not work after Washington targeted Turkish ministers over the detention of an American pastor.

The NATO allies are also at odds over the Syrian war, Turkey's plan to buy missile defences from Russian Federation and the US conviction of a Turkish state bank executive on Iran sanctions-busting charges this year.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu have held talks in Singapore on August 3, 2018.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Pompeo and Cavusoglu "had a constructive conversation" and "agreed to continue to try to resolve the issues between our two countries". "We repeated to them that nothing can be achieved through threatening language and sanctions and we believe that this was well understood", he said. Andrew Brunson, who has lived in Turkey for two decades, was swept up in a string of arrests in the wake of a failed military coup against Mr. Erdogan in 2016.

The Foreign Ministry strongly protested against the U.S. Treasury Department's decision, calling on the U.S. administration to reverse its "wrong decision".

Brunson, who was put under house arrest last month, faces a prison sentence of up to 35 years if convicted.

Before his move home last week, Brunson, who led a Protestant church in the Aegean city of Izmir, had spent almost two years in jail.

Last week, President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence threatened to impose sanctions on Turkey if Brunson was not immediately released.

It added that the US' "aggressive attitude serves no objective", and vowed that it would respond in equal measure.

Brunson was accused of helping supporters of Fethullah Gulen, the US -based cleric who Turkish authorities say masterminded the 2016 coup attempt against Erdogan in which 250 people were killed.

Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in the USA since 1999, has denied any role in the 2016 coup attempt.

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