Trump calls Turkey a ‘problem,’ says detained United States pastor isn’t a spy

Christian Charisius  Reuters

Christian Charisius Reuters

Andrew Brunson, an evangelical pastor who is now under house arrest in Turkey. US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Mr Trump on Thursday that more sanctions were ready if Brunson were not freed. "We have more that we're planning to do if they don't release him quickly".

U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly pressed Ankara to release Brunson, whom he describes as a "great patriot" who is being held "hostage". They came out. They want to hold our wonderful pastor.

The article published Thursday discussed how many of Trump's political decisions have been widely supported by his evangelical base.

The fate of Andrew Brunson, charged with terror offenses by a Turkish court, also overshadows the predicament of a Turkish-American scientist from NASA and several Turkish workers for the US diplomatic mission who were arrested in Turkey.

Mr Trump's comments came as Turkey's finance minister Berat Albayrak attempted to reassure 6,000 global investors and economists on a video link that the country would emerge stronger from the crisis.

The lira last traded at 6.01 to the U.S. dollar at 2159 GMT, 3 per cent weaker after tumbling as much as 7 per cent earlier.

Turkey's currency, which had recovered from record losses against the dollar earlier in the week, was down about 5% against the dollar on Friday.

Investors rattled by events in China, Turkey and South Africa have pulled US$1.3 billion from emerging market stocks in the last week and US$100 million from emerging bonds according to the Institute of International Finance, which tracks financial flows.

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But Albayrak, who was appointed last month in a largely unexpected move, will have a tough time restoring order to an economy plagued by high inflation and a current account imbalance.

The Turkish lira has been in a steady slide and reached an all-time low earlier this week.

On August 11, Trump said he had doubled import tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum, sending the Turkish lira into a tailspin and prompting Ankara to impose countersanctions on some USA products including rice, vehicles, alcohol, coal, and cosmetics.

"Tail risks have increased. and we are cautious in the short term given the escalation of risks in key EM economies", said Ewout van Schaick, head of multi-asset at NN Investment Partners.

Analysts say a sharp hike in interest rates is needed to stop the declining value of lira, but Ankara is opposed to any rate hike which would likely undercut growth.

In an intensifying cycle of tensions with the United States, Erdogan has called for a boycott of USA electronic goods such as iPhones and Ankara has sharply hiked tariffs on some U.S. products.

Indeed, the Chinese share markets were hardly impressed by the news. The two countries already disagree over US support for Kurdish fighters in Syria, as well as a plan by Turkey to buy Russian missiles.

Since then, Brunson's imprisonment has become a sticking point for U.S. -Turkey relations.

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