United States threatens more action against Turkey unless pastor freed

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The Turkish lira was slightly lower on Friday after the USA warned Ankara should expect more sanctions over the detention of an American evangelical pastor.

The lira had nosedived in recent weeks, hitting a record low of 7.24 earlier this week, amid a diplomatic and trade dispute with the United States that has exacerbated investor concerns over Turkey's economy.

The United States will take further action against Turkey if it continues to detain American pastor Andrew Brunson, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday in a sign that tensions between the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies will continue to escalate over the issue.

Brunson, who has been living in Turkey for more than two decades, was accused of helping supporters of the US -based Fethullah Gülen who Turkish authorities say masterminded the 2016 coup attempt in which 250 people were killed. Turkey and Qatar - which is also a very close U.S. ally - have become close economic and political partners in recent times.

Almost 10 million people use US' iPhones in Turkey, press reports said, adding that the amount paid for the products hit $7 billion in 10 years.

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President Donald Trump said during a Cabinet meeting at the White House on Thursday that Turkey has "not proven to be a good friend" to the U.S. He complained that his administration secured the release of a Turkish citizen from an unnamed country on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's behalf. They are now holding our wonderful Christian Pastor, who I must now ask to represent our Country as a great patriot hostage. We are not going to take it sitting down. The US government and human rights groups have disputed that claim.

The currency lost almost 40 percent against the dollar this year, driven by worries over President Erdogan's growing influence on the economy and his repeated calls for lower interest rates despite high inflation.

Mr Trump, who has doubled steel and aluminum tariffs on Turkey, said the steel tariffs had kicked in and the aluminium tariffs would take effect soon. "Having said that, we fully support the president's approach". He has been held in Turkey for two years and accused by local prosecutors of "terrorist" ties to the Islamist Gulen movement, which has been blamed for a failed coup in July 2016.

"But one could hardly say the same about Turkey's announced tariffs on American cars, alcohol, and tobacco". The lira lost almost 40 percent against the dollar this year and suffered a staggering collapse on the heels of Trump's announcement of increased tariffs on metals.