Turkish court rejects appeal to release USA pastor

Turkish court rejects appeal to release USA pastor

The White House said Wednesday that Turkey's tariff hikes on USA products in retaliation for U.S. sanctions on Ankara were "regrettable" and again called for the immediate release of American pastor Andrew Brunson.

Erdogan spoke on the phone with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday, the Turkish presidency said while he is due to speak with French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday.

The Turkish central bank has pledged to take "all necessary measures" to stabilize the country's economy to make sure the banks have all the money they need.

Russia's foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, voiced support for Turkey during a joint news conference with his Turkish counterpart in Ankara on Tuesday, stating both countries plan to switch from dollars to national currencies for their mutual trade.

The tensions and the tariff hike by the United States have caused the Turkish lira to bleed value, fanning fears the country is on the verge of an economic crisis that could spillover into Europe.

It has rebounded sharply from a record low of 7.24 this week, benefiting from central bank steps to underpin a currency hit by concerns at President Tayyip Erdogan's influence over monetary policy and a bitter dispute with Washington.

The crisis came days after US President Donald Trump announced a doubling of steel and aluminium tariffs on Turkey, as Washington pushes Ankara to release Evangelical Christian pastor Andrew Brunson, who is being held on terrorism charges for almost two years. "The tariffs from Turkey are certainly regrettable and a step in the wrong direction".

The White House said on Wednesday that it would not remove steel tariffs on Turkey, appearing to give Turkish authorities little incentive to work for the release of Andrew Brunson, a pastor on trial in Turkey on terrorism charges.

The US Treasury Department on August 1 announced sanctions on Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu and Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul. A court on Wednesday rejected an appeal for the release of Andrew Brunson from house arrest.

National Security Adviser John Bolton met at the White House on Monday with Turkish ambassador Serdar Kilic, but the discussion reportedly did not result in any substantive progress.

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

The lira firmed as far as 5.75 against the dollar on Wednesday and stood at 5.90 at 2058 GMT.

Erdogan said Turkey is the target of an economic war waged by the USA, calling on citizens to exchange foreign currency and gold for the lira.

Since then, Turkey has been plunged into an economic crisis - with the lira plummeting against the US Dollar on a shocking scale.

"Remarkable turnaround", Tim Ash, Bluebay Asset Management senior emerging markets analyst wrote in a client note.

"They are killing offshore lira liquidity to stop foreigners shorting the lira", he said.

Albayrak said Turkey was the direct target of "the biggest actors in the global financial system", and warned that those escalating the issue to a political level would "pay the price".

A decree signed by President Tayyip Erdogan doubled Turkish tariffs on passenger cars to 120 percent, on alcoholic drinks to 140 percent and on leaf tobacco to 60 percent.

In return, Erdogan signed a decree to also raise tariffs on some USA imports including cars, alcohol and tobacco, an official report said Wednesday.

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