Turkey continues to respond if USA imposes more sanctions: minister

Turkey continues to respond if USA imposes more sanctions: minister

Speaking at a Cabinet meeting of President Donald Trump, Mnuchin said, "We have put sanctions on several of their cabinet members" and "we have more that we are planning to do if they don't release him quickly", referring to Andrew Brunson.

Relations between Turkey and the US are at a nadir over the detention of Andrew Brunson, an American pastor that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government accuses of being involved in an attempted coup in 2016.

Turkey's currency which dived to record lows last week recovered some of its losses in recent days.

The US and Turkey have imposed tit-for-tat tariffs in an escalating attempt by Mr Trump to induce Mr Erdogan into giving up the pastor. Turkey responded by increasing tariffs on U.S. products such as cars, alcohol and tobacco.

On Friday, ratings agencies Standard & Poor and Moody's downgraded Turkey's credit rating further to "junk" status, pointing to currency volatility and concerns over central bank independence. Moody's stripped Turkey of its investment-grade rating in 2016 and Friday's move lowered it one rung further.

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Brunson was charged with terror offenses by a Turkish court and has been held since October 2016.

The leader of Turkey's main opposition party said Erdogan was using the standoff over the evangelical pastor as a "pretext", blaming the United States for economic problems and diverting attention from his own alleged mismanagement. Kemal Kilicdaroglu, head of the Republican People's Party, said Thursday in Ankara, the capital.

"They should have given him back a long time ago, and Turkey has in my opinion acted very, very badly", Mr Trump told reporters at the White House. He criticized Turkey for "holding our wonderful Christian Pastor".

Earlier on Wednesday, White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders said the USA side would consider lifting sanctions that have been placed on Turkey if Ankara released Brunson and other detained US citizens. "The serial number of the bill allegedly represented Golge's place in the hierarchy of the Gulen organization", the committee said in an August 6 letter urging U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo to campaign for 36-year-old Golge's release. Erdogan has in turn slapped sanctions on USA goods.

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