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White House Expresses Frustration With Continued Detention of US Pastor in Turkey

White House Expresses Frustration With Continued Detention of US Pastor in Turkey

Following Trump's move to increase duties on steel and aluminum from Turkey, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said this week his country will boycott USA electronic goods, including the iPhone.

The White House called the Turkish response a step in the wrong direction.

The lira's weakness has rippled through global markets.

"Tax rates on imports of some products have been increased on a reciprocal basis against the USA administration's deliberate attacks on our economy", the country's vice president, Fuat Oktay, said in a pair of tweets.

In one of the videos circulating online in Turkey, which have been picked up by the country's online news organizations, an unidentified man with four boys kneeling behind him in front of a Turkish flag, addresses the USA leader directly, asking Mr. Trump, "who do you think you are?"

The duties were raised in response to the U.S. administration's "deliberate attacks on our economy", vice-president Fuat Oktay said.

"The president has a great deal of frustration on the fact that Pastor Brunson has not been released as well as the fact that other USA citizens and employees of diplomatic facilities have not been released", Sanders said at a White House briefing Tuesday.

The White House said on Wednesday that it would not remove steel tariffs on Turkey, appearing to give Ankara little incentive to work for the release of Andrew Brunson, a pastor on trial in Turkey on terrorism charges.

Amnesty International says a court in Istanbul has ruled for the release from prison of the rights group's former Turkey chairman.

It made a decision to release two Greek soldiers from prison on Tuesday.

They also agreed on a meeting between the two countries' finance ministers "as soon as possible".

State-run Anadolu Agency quoted Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan as saying: "We have responded to the sanctions with $533 million dollars of extra tax".

Asked how the Trump administration would react to any such Turkish boycott, Sanders replied during Tuesday afternoon's briefing, "I certainly don't have a policy announcement on that at this point".

An evangelical from North Carolina, he has been held in Turkey for almost two years over alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party and the Gulenist movement, which Turkey blames for a failed coup in 2016.

Before he spoke, the Turkish lira strengthened more than 3 percent, despite signs that a rift with the United States is as wide as ever.

Washington wants the evangelical Christian freed but Turkish officials say the case is a matter for the courts.

Pastor Andrew Brunson's lawyer renewed an appeal on Tuesday for Brunson's release from house arrest and for his travel ban to be lifted. The United States slapped financial sanctions on two Turkish ministers and doubled steel and aluminum tariffs on Turkey over his continued detention.

The U.S. was Turkey's biggest export market for steel a year ago, though exports have fallen since because of tariffs.

Some Turks are reacting with defiance to their plunging currency and an escalating trade and political dispute with the United States - an indication that they are ready to endure economic pain and risk further deterioration in a key, yet troubled alliance dating from the Cold War.

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