By Steve Holland and Jeff Mason
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States warned Turkey Thursday to expect more economic sanctions unless handed over to detained American pastor Andrew Brunson, such as Relations between the two countries have further worsened the situation.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin assured President Donald Trump during a meeting of the Cabinet that sanctions were ready to be introduced if Brunson was not released.
"We have more that we intend to do if they do not release him quickly", Mnuchin said at the meeting.
The United States and Turkey exchanged tit-for-tat rates in an escalating attempt by Trump to induce Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan to denounce Brunson, who denies the charge of being involved in a coup attempt against Erdogan two years ago.
"They have not proven to be a good friend," Trump said about Turkey during the Cabinet meeting. "They have a great Christian pastor there, he's an innocent man."
Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton, had given a blunt warning to Turkish ambassador Serdar Kilic when he met him on Monday at the White House, an administrative official said on Thursday.
When Kilic wanted to attach conditions to the release of Brunson, Bolton waved them away and said that there would be no negotiations.
"Release Brunson," Bolton told him, according to the official, who refused to be
Turkey has tried to persuade the United States to save the Turkish state bank Halkbank from an endangered fine for allegedly helping Iran to to bypass the US sanctions. Ankara also wanted Washington to hand over the Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania and whom Turkey suspects of plotting the coup against Erdogan. Gulen denies the accusations.
"They missed a big opportunity, this is very easy to solve," said the administrative officer. "They made a big mistake by linking this to other things."
The dispute over Brunson and other frictions between Washington and Ankara have been one reason why the Turkish lira has plunged 40 percent this year. Investors are also worried about Erdogan's influence on monetary policy.
The lira lost his power after Mnuchin's remarks.
Trump, who has doubled the steel and aluminum tariffs on Turkey, said that the steel rates have been introduced and that the aluminum rates would come into force soon.
(Reporting by Steve Holland and Jeff Mason, additional reporting by Jonathan Landay; Editing by Alistair Bell and Rosalba O & # 39; Brien)
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