Turkey ready to respond if U.S. imposes more sanctions

US dollar banknotes are seen in this

Turkey won't change its course due to economic pressure from outside, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said August 18 before the Sixth Congress of the Turkish Justice and Development Party, Turkish media reported.

The Turkish government has also complained about what it calls USA support for Kurdish rebel groups fighting in northern Syria, and it has condemned the US refusal to extradite the Pennsylvania-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Turkey has accused of masterminding the 2016 coup attempt.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told President Donald Trump at a Cabinet meeting on Thursday that sanctions were ready to be put in place if Brunson, who is on trial in Turkey on terrorism charges, was not freed.

The leader of Turkey's main opposition party said Erdogan was using the standoff over the evangelical pastor as a "pretext", blaming the United States for economic problems and diverting attention from his own alleged mismanagement.

The fight between Turkey and the USA has escalated in recent weeks.

Brunson was charged with terror offenses by a Turkish court and has been held since October 2016.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday told thousands of supporters in Ankara that the country was being "threatened by the economy, sanctions, foreign currency, interest rates and inflation".

Yesterday, a Turkish court rejected an appeal to release Brunson from house arrest, broadcaster Haberturk said. These increases affect a list of more than 20 goods, which Ankara first targeted earlier this summer in retaliation for the Trump administration's broad tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.

Trump's comments came after a court in Izmir province rejected an appeal to release Brunson from house arrest, saying evidence was still being collected and the pastor posed a flight risk, according to a copy of the court ruling seen by Reuters. Turkey's dollar bonds fell, while the cost of insuring exposure to Turkish debt rose.

"We will pay nothing for the release of an innocent man, but we are cutting back on Turkey!" he said in a tweet Friday.

It estimates Turkey's short-term external debt at $180 billion and total external debt at $460 billion - the highest in emerging markets.

While the Brunson matter appeared far from being resolved, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan got a shot in the arm from Qatar's Emir, who approved a package of economic projects, investments and deposits after the two met in Ankara.

"They have invested a lot of pressure into the release of Brunson, given the importance of the midterm elections in the US". Brunson is accused of backing a 2016 coup attempt against Mr Erdogan, which Brunson denies. He criticized Turkey for "holding our wonderful Christian Pastor".

Turkey has repeatedly criticized the USA for not condemning the coup attempt two years ago.

If convicted, the American pastor faces up to 35 years in jail.

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