Turkish lira weakens as USA warns of new sanctions over detained pastor

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19 August, 2018

Turkey and the US are now experiencing rocky 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.

USA pastor Andrew Brunson arrives at his home after being released from prison in Izmir, Turkey on July 25, 2018. The party will change its bylaws in accordance with Turkey's new presidential system.

The lira, which earlier this week traded at well over seven to the dollar, held onto its gains during Albayrak's discussion, trading at 5.7 against the greenback.

US and Turkey relations have been souring, after President Trump doubled tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum in response to his continued imprisonment.

With Turkey's economy already in a downward spiral, the president's treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin, announced more financial pressure is on the way if Turkey doesn't release Pastor Brunson.

"They should have given him back a long time ago, and Turkey has in my opinion acted very, very badly, so we haven't seen the last of that".

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 have more that we are planning to do if they don't release him [Brunson] quickly", Mnuchin said, BBC reported.

Tensions continue to rise between the USA and its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally Turkey after both countries imposed sanctions on one another over the release of a US pastor held in Turkey since 2016.

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The US pastor, who has already spent almost two years behind bars in Turkey, has denied the charges, calling them "shameful and disgusting".

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday warned against threatening his country with sanctions.

"We have stood together and will continue to do so", he said, making clear the high-level meeting was meant to communicate unequivocal support for Turkey at a critical juncture.

The turmoil has raised fears of a looming economic crisis in Turkey and prompted alarm that foreign investors in the country, including Qatar, could be hit in the fallout.

Inflation in the state is at a 14-year high in Turkey, at close to 16%, but the country's central bank - which is under the control of Erdogan - refuses to raise interest rates, a simple mechanism for bringing down rampant inflation.

Analysts also said the political cost of the investment remained to be seen, given that Qatar is also a USA ally and dependent on Washington for both military and political protection. "They said they came to Qatar's support during Doha's row with its Arab neighbors, and now it was Qatar's turn to pay back the favor".

The slide sent jitters across emerging market currencies.

Doha has Dollars 20 billion worth of investments in Turkey, official figures showed last month, and Ankara is now one of the top exporters to the emirate.


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