Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said additional U.S. sanctions are ready if Turkey refuses to release an American pastor whom the Trump administration says is illegally detained.
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.
“We got somebody out for him,” Trump said. “He needed help getting somebody out of some place, he came out. They want to hold our wonderful pastor. Not fair. Not right.”
He asked Mnuchin for an update on sanctions punishing Turkey for pastor Andrew Brunson’s detention.
“We put sanctions on several of the Cabinet members,” Mnuchin said. “Working with you, we have more that we’re planning to do if they don’t release him quickly.”
Erdogan has moved to shore up alliances in Europe and the Middle East, easing pressure on the battered lira, as the standoff with the U.S. has deepened. Efforts to rally support and bolster domestic markets included a call Thursday between Turkish Finance Minister Berat Albayrak and international investors.
Erdogan also spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron, a day after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and a $15 billion pledge of support from Qatar.
The plight of Brunson has dominated the Trump administration’s policy toward its NATO ally, even as the dispute roils currency markets. Brunson, who Turkish officials say had links to a failed 2016 coup, is being held under house arrest.
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