Erdogan says USA set deadline for pastor's release

Recep Tayyip Erdogan

"Our relations with Turkey are not good at this time!"

A Turkish delegation returned from a meeting with Trump administration officials in Washington on Thursday with no apparent progress on a conflict over an American pastor who has been detained in Turkey for almost two years.

Erdogan said Turkey would turn towards new markets, new partners and alternative financial tools.

But President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who had remained unusually silent until the lira crisis deepened, urged his fellow countrymen to take matters into their own hands. "The entire Turkish public is against United States policies that disregard Turkey's legitimate security demands", Kalin, also a spokesperson for Erdogan, wrote for the pro-government Daily Sabah newspaper.

The Trump administration followed through on its apparent threat, announcing on Friday it would double tariffs on steel and aluminum from Turkey to leverage Brunson's return.

The White House said Mr Trump had authorised them under a section of United States trade law that allows for tariffs on national security grounds.

"They tell us to release the priest by Wednesday 6:00 pm, otherwise the sanctions will begin", said Erdogan, adding Turkey was not a country to agree to such requests.

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Turkish officials insist the outcome of Brunson's case exclusively relies on the judiciary, a claim the USA has refused to buy in the light of Erdogan's earlier suggestions to swap him with Turkish opposition exiles residing in the US. In relation to this latter dispute, Turkey's continued detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson, who was jailed 21 months ago in a widespread crackdown over a failed coup in Turkey, has increase hostility between the nations. As recently as April the ratio was about four lira per dollar.

Without naming any country, Erdogan said that those - who stand against Turkey for the sake of small calculations - would pay the price. "This will be the response to those who have declared an economic war".

In an opinion piece in the New York Times Friday, Erdogan wrote "failure to reverse this trend of unilateralism and disrespect will require us to start looking for new friends and allies".

"They have been trying to achieve what they failed to do through provocations and a coup attempt with money now", he said. "Don't heed them. Don't forget, if they have their dollars, we have our people, our God", Erdogan said. Gulen denies the allegation.

His cause resonates with Mr Trump's Christian conservative supporters. I am addressing the U.S. once again: it is a pity that you chose a pastor over your strategic partner in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. He offered no further details.

"This could be the most expensive pastor in world history", Sekulow said, referring to the harm being done to Turkey's economy.

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