The Latest: Trump tweets support for pastor jailed in Turkey
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — The latest on Turkey’s currency crisis (all times local):
President Donald Trump is calling on jailed pastor Andrew Brunson to serve as a “great patriot hostage” while he’s being held in Turkey.
Tweeting on Thursday, Trump says: “Turkey has taken advantage of the United States for many years” and is criticizing the country for “holding our wonderful Christian Pastor.”
Trump adds, “We will pay nothing for the release of an innocent man, but we are cutting back on Turkey!”
Brunson has been detained on espionage and terrorism-related charges.
The Trump administration has said Turkey could face additional sanctions if he isn’t quickly released.
The White House is telling Turkey to release detained American pastor Andrew Brunson to cool diplomatic and economic tensions between the two countries.
An administration official says President Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton spoke Monday with the Turkish ambassador to the U.S. and told him to release Brunson.
The official says the White House thought it had a deal to secure Brunson’s release last month, apparently referring to U.S. pressure on Israel to release a Turkish citizen imprisoned there. Instead, Brunson was placed under house arrest.
The official says Turkey missed a big opportunity to bring about an end to the tensions over Brunson’s imprisonment, which has sparked U.S. economic sanctions on Turkey.
The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions.
— Zeke Miller
The Trump administration says Turkey could face additional sanctions if an American pastor detained on espionage and terrorism-related charges isn’t quickly released.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (mih-NOO’-shin) says the sanctions would be in addition to penalties recently imposed on two Turkish officials in the case of Andrew Craig Brunson. The American pastor continues to be detained in Turkey — a NATO ally — despite Trump’s demands that Brunson be freed.
Mnuchin commented during a White House meeting Thursday at which President Donald Trump said Turkey has “not proven to be a good friend.”
Trump said it’s “not fair, not right” that Turkey is holding “a very innocent man.”
Trump has also authorized higher steel and aluminum tariffs against Turkey. The White House says the move is unrelated to Brunson’s case.
A top Turkish official says Turkey, France and Germany “are on the same page” concerning their opposition to U.S. sanctions and tariffs restricting trade.
Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin also told reporters Thursday that their like-minded position could present an “opportunity” for Turkey and European countries to further improve relations.
Kalin’s comments came after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held telephone conversations with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Emmanuel Macron of France amid a trade and diplomatic dispute with the United States that helped trigger a Turkish currency crisis.
Kalin said the German and French leaders told Erdogan that “they were also suffering and that they were also complaining about” U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration’s tendency to “use trade, dollars, taxes as weapons.”
Turkish media reports say Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak has told international investors that Turkey would come out of the current “currency fluctuation” stronger than before.
Albayrak addressed thousands of investors in a teleconference on Thursday to update about the state of the economy.
Private NTV quoted Albayrak as reassuring investors’ that Turkey’s banks are “healthy and strong” and that fighting inflation, implementing structural reforms and strict monetary policy remained a priority.
The minister ruled out imposing limits on money flows, NTV said.
International investors have been worried by Turkey’s high levels of foreign debt and Erdogan’s refusal to allow the central bank to raise interest rates to support the currency, as experts say it should.
The drop in the Turkish lira is attracting more interest from tourists, including last minute travelers, as well as prospective real estate buyers.
U.K.-based online travel agent Travel Republic says bookings to Turkey increased by 21 percent in the last three days.
The company said the number of nights that tourists are staying in Turkey has also increased, by 47 percent, likely due to costs in resort being low as a result of the currency devaluation.
Price comparison site TravelSupermarket.com says it has seen a 19 percent increase in searches for Turkey in the Aug. 9-15 period compared with the previous week.
Some are looking for a longer-term bargain — property.
Spotblue, a British website focused on Turkish real estate, says the number of people visiting its site has more than doubled since last week. It is too early to say how much of that interest will turn into a deal.
Turkish officials say President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has spoken with French President Emmanuel Macron, during which Macron said that Turkey’s economic stability is important for France.
Officials at Erdogan’s office say the two presidents on Thursday stressed the importance of expanding economic and trade ties as well as mutual investments. They added that the Turkish and French finance ministers would meet soon.
The high-level conversation comes as Turkey shows signs of a rapprochement with European countries amid an on-going trade and diplomatic spat with the United States that help trigger a Turkish currency crisis. Erdogan held a similar conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday.
The officials provided the information only on condition of anonymity, in line with rules.
The Turkish lira is rebounding from record losses a day after Qatar pledged US$15 billion in investments to help Turkey’s economy.
The currency strengthened some 3 percent against the dollar on Thursday, trading at around 5.75 per dollar, hours before Turkey’s treasury and finance minister were scheduled to reassure international investors about the economy.
The lira had nosedived in recent weeks, hitting a record low of 7.24 last week, amid a diplomatic and trade dispute with the United States.
Washington imposed sanctions and tariffs over the continued detention of an American pastor, while Turkey retaliated with some US$500 million of tariffs on some U.S. imports and said it would boycott U.S. electronic goods.
The currency recovered after authorities took steps to help bank liquidity and limit swap transactions.