White House Expresses Frustration With Continued Detention of US Pastor in Turkey

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Washington warned more economic pressures may be in store for Turkey if it refuses to release Brunson, a White House official said on Tuesday.

There is an increasing risk of lower-level Turkish officials, acting on their own initiative, taking measures against U.S. individuals and companies, including arbitrary regulatory inspections, scrutiny over existing state contracts, as well as deliberate difficulties for USA citizens in customs.

The Trump administration announced plans on Friday to double USA tariffs imports of steel and aluminum from Turkey.

His detention has soured relations with Washington, with US President Donald Trump doubling aluminium and steel tariffs for Turkey in punitive actions against Ankara's refusal to release Brunson.

Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said that the rises were ordered "within the framework of reciprocity in retaliation for the conscious attacks on our economy by the USA administration". Other affected products include fruit, coal, paper and rice.

Although the Turkish lira recovered modestly today, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced today a boycott of America's iPhone manufactured by Apple and other unspecified electronic products.

Earlier on Wednesday, Erdogan spoke on the phone with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Turkish presidency.

"What is happening in Turkey goes far beyond the United States and the United States' recent policies and impositions of various policies and mechanisms", Nauert said.

Russian officials say that this could soon change, and that they support the idea of conducting bilateral trade in the national currencies of whoever they're trading with, instead of the U.S. dollar. Kremlin officials say this idea needs work before being implemented.

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President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have repeatedly urged Turkey to release Brunson, with the USA levying sanctions against two Turkish ministers over his detainment.

There was also optimism about better relations with the European Union after a Turkish court released two Greek soldiers pending trial.

Also on Wednesday, the Turkish government doubled tariffs on a number of United States imports, including cars and alcohol. The tariffs that the United States placed on Turkey were out of national security interest.

It appears that the move was triggered by the introduction of new rules by the BDDK - Turkey's banking watchdog - created to stop investors betting against domestic assets.

Brunson, a Christian pastor from North Carolina who has lived in Turkey for more than two decades, was indicted on charges of helping the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), which is responsible for the failed 2016 coup, as well as for supporting the PKK.

The lira rebounded some 8 per cent on Tuesday, helped by news of a planned conference call on Thursday in which the finance minister will seek to reassure global investors.

A Turkish court on Wednesday rejected an appeal from American pastor Andrew Brunson to be released from house arrest, but a higher court has yet to rule on the matter.

Erdogan has repeatedly described the crisis as an "economic war" that Turkey will win.

Kalin said Erdogan would hold telephone conversations with German Chancellor Angela Merkel later Wednesday and with Emmanuel Macron of France on Thursday.

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