Monday, 22 October, 2018

Setback for US Pastor Brunson as Turkey Retaliates Against Trump

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrives to inaugurate the Diyanet Islamic Cultural Center in the United States in April 2016 Lira rallies after Turkey raises tariffs on US imports
Kelvin Reese | 17 August, 2018, 09:12

On Wednesday, Turkey rejected pastor Andrew Craig Brunson's appeal to be released from custody, and slapped additional tariffs on USA imports.

A Turkish court also rejected the American pastor's appeal to be released from house arrest and have his travel ban lifted.

The US doubled tariffs last week over Turkey's refusal to free a US pastor who is imprisoned there.

The national currency recovered somewhat from record lows hit earlier this week, a day after Qatar pledged 15 billion dollars (£11 billion) in investments to help Turkey's economy.

The lira, which has weakened 34% against the dollar this year, firmed to 5.7500 against the dollar by 0722 GMT from a close of 5.95.

The lira had already rebounded about 8 percent on Tuesday on news of a planned conference call on Thursday in which the finance minister will seek to reassure worldwide investors.

Global investors have been anxious by Turkey's high levels of foreign debt and Erdogan's refusal to allow the central bank to raise interest rates to support the currency, as experts say it should.

The Turkish currency showed a rebound on Thursday after losing over 16 percent of its value last Friday, following US President Donald Trump doubling aluminium and steel tariffs on Ankara.

Earlier in the day, the currency had shrugged off U.S. 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.

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In another high-profile case, a Turkish court freed Taner Kilic, the local chair of Amnesty International, a researcher from the rights group said.

The issue has led to a dramatic souring of U.S. -Turkey relations.

The Trump administration said Wednesday that Erdogan's imposition of retaliatory tariffs against the United States were "a step in the wrong direction".

The dispute with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation partner the United States, focused on a tit-for-tat tariff row and Turkey's detention of Brunson, helped turn the currency's steady decline into meltdown.

Beset by a shaky currency and tension with the United States, Turkey is reaching out to Europe to shore up relations with major trading partners despite years of testy rhetoric and a stalled bid for European Union membership.

Leading Turkish business groups have warned that tighter monetary policy is needed to stabilise the Turkish lira and disputes should be resolved via diplomacy, Hurriyet Daily News has reported.

"You work with us in Afghanistan, Somalia and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, and then you go stab your partner in the back", he said earlier this week.

Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak emphasized that the support for Turkey is promising for a period in which a cooperative and constructive approach will yield positive result for both sides.

In the wake of the currency crisis, the Turkish president has held talks with French and German leaders, Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel, on ways to promote bilateral ties.

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