Turkey reiterates refusal to release detained USA pastor

The End of the United States Turkey Alliance

A Turkish court has rejected an appeal to release American pastor Andrew Brunson from his house arrest, according to local media.

The lira, which earlier this week traded at well over seven to the dollar, rebounded slightly over the last three days but on Friday it lost over five percent of its value around 1250 GMT.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Trump in cabinet on Thursday that more sanctions were ready if Brunson were not freed.

Many countries have been the target of similar USA trade measures, Albayrak said, and Turkey would navigate this period with other parties such as Germany, Russia and China.

Earlier, US President Donald Trump prefaced Mnuchin's remarks by saying that Turkey had not been a very good friend to the US. Referring to imprisoned pastor Andrew Brunson, Trump said "they have a great Christian pastor there, he's a very innocent man".

The Turkish lira has strengthened more than 3% today, ahead of a presentation by Finance Minister Berat Albayrak to investors, shrugging off USA comments ruling out the removal of steel tariffs on Turkey even if it frees a U.S. pastor.

Turkey retaliated with some $533 million of tariffs on some United States imports - including cars, tobacco and alcoholic drinks - and said it would boycott USA electronic goods.

He later tweeted: "Turkey has taken advantage of the United States for many years".

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The latest U.S. announcement came after Turkish Finance Minister Berat Albayrak tried to soothe the markets during an unprecedented conference call with hundreds of foreign investors, insisting Turkey would emerge "stronger" from the currency crisis and would not need an International Monetary Fund bailout.

USA equities rose on hopes that Beijing and Washington may resolve a conflict that has roiled financial markets since early March.

The conflict between North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies is even more personalized because of U.S. President Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose uncompromising statements contribute to a sense that the tension will ratchet up before any possibility of a climbdown.

One currency trader said on Friday's lira weakness was driven by "the new U.S. sanctions threat and the S&P decision, with position-closing in markets ahead of the public holiday".

Dashing hopes for a quick solution to the dispute, a Turkish court on Friday rejected an appeal for the evangelical pastor's release from house detention. He is once again defiant against Western economic and political actors, whom he accuses of striving to destabilise Turkey under his rule, this time via the runs on the Turkish lira. The currency's fall has also sparked fears of an economic crisis in Turkey that could spread globally.

The issue has led to a dramatic souring of U.S. -Turkey relations.

Albayrak said there would be no concessions on fiscal discipline, adding: "We are targeting lowering inflation into the single digits as soon as possible".

President Donald Trump doubled tariffs on Turkish metals exports to the United States last week prompting Ankara, which says it will not bow to threats, to raise tariffs on USA cars, alcohol and tobacco by the same amount yesterday.

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