U.S. threatens Turkey with more sanctions if it doesn’t free pastor

Turkish lira firms before minister's presentation

When asked about the impact of the USA spat with Turkey on the country's currency, the spokeswoman said Washington was "monitoring the situation".

Andrew Brunson has been held in Turkey for almost two years over alleged links to political groups.

The dispute over his release has seen the two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies impose tariffs on one another's goods.

Wall Street stocks fell early on Friday as the Turkish lira fell on the latest diplomatic frictions with the United States.

Memories of past emerging market crises, such as the Asian financial turmoil of 1997 and Turkey's 2001 crisis, haunted investors this week and prompted selling across emerging market assets as a whole. The U.S. says the charges are without merit.

The White House has said there could be more economic measures against Turkey if Brunson is not released.

"We have put sanctions on several of their cabinet members", Mnuchin told President Donald Trump in a cabinet meeting attended by the press.

Turkey's currency nosedived last week after Mr Trump doubled tariffs on Turkey's steel and aluminium exports to 50% and 20% respectively.

Turkey vowed it would not succumb to threats.

Turkey retaliates by raising tariffs
Washington has imposed financial sanctions on two Turkish ministers and doubled steel and aluminum tariffs on Turkey, as U.S. The pastor has been held in Turkey since October 2016 on charges of aiding terrorists in a failed coup in July of that year.

Lira fall a political plot, says Erdogan
Trump has described the pastor's detention as a "total disgrace" and urged Erdogan to free him "immediately". A Turkish delegation visited Washington for talks this week but left with no signs of a breakthrough.

Trump Administration Outlines 'Space Force' Plan, But Obstacles Remain
Pence said the White House already has been working with Congress to develop the plan . "We'll call it the space force", he said . The top House Republican and Democrat on an Armed Services Committee panel on strategic forces applauded the plan .

Trump later tweeted that he had no intention of paying the Turkish government for Brunson's release.

The latest USA announcement came after Turkish Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, the son-in-law of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, sought to soothe markets during an unprecedented teleconference on Thursday with hundreds of foreign investors from the United States, Europe to Asia.

Ankara accuses Mr Brunson - who operates a tiny evangelical church in Izmir - of having links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party and the Gulenist movement, which Turkey blames for a failed coup two years ago.

"They made up this phoney charge that he's a spy", Trump said.

Turkish diplomats are reportedly close to releasing an imprisoned American pastor who is at the center of a diplomatic crisis between Turkey and the US.

"The Brunson case is a rallying call for evangelicals within the Republican base because you have a Christian pastor being held in a Muslim-majority country", Amanda Sloat of Brookings Institution told the newspaper.

As Ankara sought to reassure markets after the lira went into a tailspin over the deepening spat, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin warned more sanctions would be on the way until Andrew Brunson was released. The US has refused to extradite Fethullah Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania.

U.S. sanctions and the declining lira created panic in the markets but on the streets, many Turks appeared to support the government's retaliatory measures.

Turkey, in turn, criticized the prosecution in the US of Mehmet Hakan Atilla, a top official at Turkey's state-controlled Halkbank who was convicted of helping Iran avoid USA sanctions.

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