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Trump vows no concessions to Erdogan for US pastor’s release

U.S. pastor Andrew Craig Brunson, an evangelical pastor from Black Mountain, N.C., waves from a car as he arrives at his house in Izmir, Turkey, on Wednesday, July 25, 2018. After being jailed in Turkey for more than one and a half years on terror and espionage charges, he was released Wednesday and will be put under house arrest as his trial continues in Izmir, Turkey. President Donald Trump said he won't make any concessions to Turkey to secure Brunson's freedom. (Mehmet Ozdogru/Depo Photos/Abaca Press/TNS)

President Donald Trump said he won’t make any concessions to Turkey to secure the freedom of a detained Christian evangelical pastor at the center of the diplomatic dispute that has rocked the NATO ally’s economy.

The president also said in an interview with Reuters he wasn’t concerned that higher steel and aluminum tariffs he imposed on Turkey earlier this month would have a broader impact on the European economy.

“I’m not concerned at all. I’m not concerned. This is the proper thing to do,” Trump said.

The president on Friday said Turkey had made up espionage charges against Andrew Brunson, a U.S. clergyman that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government accuses of being involved in an attempted coup in 2016.

Trump has demanded Brunson’s release, sanctioned Turkish officials and increased metals tariffs. Erdogan has in turn slapped sanctions on U.S. goods.

Earlier last week, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the U.S. is ready to impose more sanctions if Turkey doesn’t move quickly to release the pastor.

Speaking Monday, Trump again reiterated his frustration that the Turkish government wasn’t reciprocating after the U.S. helped gain the release of Ebru Ozkan, a Turkish citizen arrested in Israel on accusations of abetting Hamas, the militant group that controls the Gaza Strip.

Trump said Erdogan violated an agreement struck at the NATO summit last month.

“I got that person out for him. I expect him to let this very innocent and wonderful man and great father and great Christian out of Turkey,” Trump said in the Reuters interview.

Trump went on to say that while he had had a good relationship with Erdogan “until now,” that the U.S.-Turkey relationship is “no longer a one-way street.”

S&P Global Ratings and Moody’s Investors Service cut Turkey’s rating on Friday on worries the volatile currency and wide current-account deficit may undermine the economy.


© 2018 Bloomberg News

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