The Latest: White House says Turkey treated pastor ‘badly’
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — The Latest on Turkey’s currency crisis (all times local):
The White House says “we won’t forget” how Turkey has treated a detained American pastor, after a court rejected his appeal for release.
Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Wednesday that Andrew Brunson is “a very good person and a strong Christian who’s done nothing wrong.” She says that Turkey has treated him “very unfairly, very badly.”
Brunson is at the center of a diplomatic spat between NATO allies Turkey and the United States, which has helped trigger a Turkish currency crisis.
Sanders also criticized Turkey’s imposition of tariffs on some U.S. goods as “regrettable and a step in the wrong direction.” She wouldn’t be drawn on whether the Trump administration would respond.
The U.S. has already doubled steel and aluminum tariffs on Turkey and slapped sanctions on two Cabinet ministers.
Turkish officials say Qatar has pledged $15 billion of direct investments for Turkey as it struggles with a currency crisis.
Officials from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s office said the pledge was made by Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, who met with the Turkish leader Wednesday.
The officials provided the information only on condition of anonymity, in line with government rules. They did not provide further information on the nature of the investments.
During the meeting, Erdogan and Al Thani also expressed their determination to develop ties between their countries “in all areas,” according to the officials.
Turkey and Qatar have forged close bonds over the years, with Ankara supporting Doha during its standoff last year with other Gulf neighbors, including sending troops to a Turkish base there.
The International Currency Exchange (ICE) says it has ran out of Turkish Lira Tuesday as an unprecedented number of Britons travel to Turkey to make the most of the weak Lira.
ICE says orders for Lira have increased by 24,000 percent compared to average daily orders last month.
The surge follows record lows for the Turkish Lira in recent months On Monday, one pound was worth 8.7 Lira on the International Currency Exchange website. Now, one pound is worth 7.7 Lira.
The currency drop is particularly painful for Turkey because it has accumulated a high debt in foreign currencies, and because recent trade tariffs from the U.S. have further injured the economy.
Turkey announced its own tariffs against the U.S Wednesday. Reductions to imports could further weaken the Lira.
ICE expects to have Lira back in stock by Thursday evening.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman says the German leader has discussed “international challenges” such as Syria and bilateral relations in a phone conversation with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a brief statement the leaders agreed in Wednesday’s conversation that the two countries’ finance and economy ministers will hold a preparatory meeting ahead of Erdogan’s planned state visit to Berlin in late September.
He didn’t give a date for that meeting and also made no direct reference to Turkey’s currency crisis.
Earlier this week, Merkel said that Germany wants to see Turkey prosper economically and also stressed the importance of its central bank’s independence.
Turkish officials say President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke by phone with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and stressed that a strong Turkish economy is also in Germany’s interest.
Officials from Erdogan’s office said during their conversation on Wednesday the two leaders confirmed their commitment to maintaining high-level visits and contacts to strengthen cooperation.
They said that Turkish Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak would meet with his German counterpart, but did not provide a date. The two also discussed their planned meeting in Berlin at the end of next month, the officials said.
The officials provided the information only on condition of anonymity, in line with regulations.
Amnesty International says a court in Istanbul has ruled for the release from prison of the rights group’s former Turkey chairman.
The decision to release Taner Kilic on Wednesday came a day after a Turkish court similarly freed two Greek soldiers from their jail in northwest Turkey, raising hopes for improved ties between Turkey and European Union countries.
Kilic spent 14 months in prison for terror-related charges, accused of links to a network led by U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey blames for a failed coup in 2016. His trial continues.
The EU had strongly criticized Kilic’s imprisonment, expressing concerns over the rule of law in Turkey, an EU candidate country.
Kilic was among several human rights activists caught up in a massive crackdown that Turkey launched following the attempted coup.
Kumi Naidoo, Amnesty International’s new Secretary General said: “We are overjoyed at this news. It has taken us more than a year of campaigning and struggle to get here.”
Turkey’s trade minister says increased tariffs have been imposed on 22 types of produce and goods imported from the United States, amounting to $533 million of extra duties.
Turkey announced Wednesday increased duties on U.S. products including cars, tobacco and alcohol in retaliation to U.S. sanctions and tariffs on Turkey in an on-going feud over the detention of an American pastor.
State-run Anadolu Agency quoted Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan as saying: “We have responded to the sanctions with $533 million dollars of extra tax.”
She said: “the United States is an important trading partner, but it is not our only partner. We have other partners and alternative markets.”
Pekcan said Turkey would continue to “protect the rights of Turkish companies and retaliate” against unjust actions by the United States.
A senior official says a series of measures aimed at shoring up the Turkish currency are taking effect and that he expects the improvements to continue.
Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin told reporters Wednesday: “We predict that measures that our institutions will continue to take will result in an even stronger normalization of the Turkish economy.”
In a sign of improving ties to European Union nations, Kalin said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would hold telephone conversations with German Chancellor Angela Merkel later Wednesday and with Emmanuel Macron of France on Thursday.
In reference to tariffs Turkey announced Wednesday on the import of some American goods, Kalin said: “Turkey does not favor an economic war, but it cannot remain unresponsive when it is attacked.”
Kalin also called on the United States to respect legal process in Turkey in reference to the American pastor’s continued detention.
Turkish media reports say a Turkish court has rejected an appeal for the release of an American pastor from detention.
Pastor Andrew Brunson’s lawyer had on Tuesday renewed an appeal for the clergyman’s release from house arrest and for his travel ban to be lifted.
Hurriyet newspaper said the court in Izmir rejected the appeal, but that a higher court would review the appeal.
Brunson is at the center of a diplomatic spat between NATO allies Turkey and the United States, which has helped trigger a Turkish currency crisis. The United States slapped financial sanctions on two Turkish ministers and doubled steel and aluminum tariffs on Turkey over his continued detention. Turkey retaliated on Wednesday with tariffs on certain US goods.
Brunson, 50, is being tried on espionage and terror-related charges, which he and the U.S. government vehemently deny.
Turkey is increasing tariffs on imports of series of U.S. products, escalating a feud with the United States that has helped trigger a currency crisis.
Turkey said Wednesday it was imposing extra tariffs on imports of products, including rice, vehicles, alcohol, coal and cosmetics. The decision was announced on the Official Gazette.
Turkey’s Vice President Fuat Oktay said on Twitter that the tariffs on certain products were increased “within the framework of the principle of reciprocity in retaliation for the conscious economic attacks by the United States.”