Turkey vows retaliation against USA sanctions without delay

Angela Merkel with President Erdogan in Instanbul in 2015

The White House is announcing that the Treasury Department is imposing sanctions on two Turkish officials over a detained American pastor who is being tried on espionage and terror-related charges. It put in a low of 5.0157 per dollar about 30 minutes prior.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says the Trump administration would sanction Turkey's minister of justice and minister of interior over the holding of 50-year-old Andrew Craig Brunson. The designation means any USA financial assets are blocked, and the two men could have only limited access to the US financial system.

These officials serve as leaders of Turkish government organizations responsible for implementing Turkey's serious human rights abuses, and are being targeted pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13818, "Blocking the Property of Persons Involved in Serious Human Rights Abuse or Corruption", which builds upon Treasury's Global Magnitsky Act authorities.

While negotiations to release one of the people, evangelical Pastor Andrew Brunson, are ongoing, the preparation of the so-called "designation packages" shows how close the US has come to imposing unprecedented penalties against a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally.

A spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Tuesday that Turkey is prepared to retaliate to any sanctions the USA imposes over a detained American pastor, according to Reuters.

In Washington, a former United States official with knowledge of the negotiations told The National that the U.S. administration is reviewing list of options to sanction Turkey for continuing to hold Mr Brunson.

A State Department official was unable to confirm any planned meeting between Mr Pompeo and Mr Cavusoglu.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has also discussed the matter several times with his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, according to State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert. "This has gone on far too long".

But the spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, also said Turkey expects the two countries to resolve their differences through diplomacy and that foreign ministers from each side were planning to hold talks, Reuters reported.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Hami Aksoy added in a separate statement. "An equivalent response to this aggressive attitude will be given without delay".

Ankara had the right to seek arbitration if Washington blocks delivery of F-35 jets to Turkey, Kalin said.

"We call upon the USA administration to go back on this wrong decision". "We've embraced Erdogan publicly even as we voiced concern". Ankara blames Gulen for the coup attempt, while the cleric denies involvement. The two countries have also been at odds over the war in Syria, what role Kurdish fighters should have there, and how much to economically contain Iran.

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