Getting personal: US, Turkish leaders feud over arrest

US dollar banknotes are seen in this

Relations between Turkey and the USA 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.

The US doubled tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum imports and Turkey hit back with $533 million of tariffs on some US imports that include cars, tobacco and alcoholic drinks, with the additional warning it would boycott US electronics.

US authorities have rebuffed efforts by Turkey for the extradition of Gülen, who lives in Pennsylvania.

Supporters of Brunson, who ran a small church in the Turkish coastal city of Izmir, say allegations that he was linked to Kurdish rebels as well as Turkish cleric and alleged coup plotter Fethullah Gulen are absurd. And while many global economists peg the currency's troubles to a combination of debt, inflation and Erdogan's vow to reject raising interest rates - a typical solution to these problems - Erdogan himself has found a ready villain: the U.S. This decision caused the fall of the Turkish lira to the historic low.

A decree by Mr Erdogan doubled Turkish tariffs on imports of U.S. passenger cars to 120 per cent, alcoholic drinks to 140 per cent and leaf tobacco to 60 per cent. Tariffs were also doubled on goods such as cosmetics, rice and coal.

Turkey and the U.S. are now experiencing strained relations following Washington's imposition of sanctions on two government ministers for not releasing American pastor Andrew Brunson, who faces terrorism-related charges in Turkey.

The United States sanctioned Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul and Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, blaming both for being involved Brunson's arrest and detention.

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The Turkish president emphasized Turkey's determination to eliminate all threats from Syria and Iraq. The feud over Brunson, who was detained in October 2016, has added to the jitters over an economy that grew quickly, with the help of heavy borrowing, in past years. Turkey's dollar bonds fell, while the cost of insuring exposure to Turkish debt rose.

Erdogan has remained defiant, urging Turks to sell their gold and dollars for lira.

While the Brunson matter appeared far from being resolved, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan got a shot in the arm from Qatar's Emir, who approved a package of economic projects, investments and deposits after the two met in Ankara. Brunson is accused of backing a 2016 coup attempt against Mr Erdogan, which Brunson denies.

The fight between Turkey and the US has escalated in recent weeks, with Brunson's detainment as a flashpoint.

In a tweet on Thursday, Trump urged Brunson to serve as a "great patriot hostage" while he is jailed and criticized Turkey for "holding our wonderful Christian Pastor".

"We will pay nothing for the release of an innocent man, but we are cutting back on Turkey!"

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