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Iran Press TV

In tit-for-tat response, Erdogan says Turkey to freeze assets of 'US justice, interior ministers'

Iran Press TV

Sat Aug 4, 2018 09:51AM

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Ankara will freeze the assets in Turkey of the US ministers of "justice and interior," in tit-for-tat response to US sanctions on his country over the detention of an American pastor.

"Today I will give our friends instructions to freeze the assets in Turkey of the American justice and interior ministers, if they have any (such assets)," Erdogan said in a televised speech.

He, however, did not specify to which members of the US administration he was referring.

"Those who think that they can make Turkey take a step back by resorting to threatening language and absurd sanctions show that they do not know the Turkish nation," he added.

US President Donald Trump has escalated pressure on Turkey, a NATO ally, since last month when a court in Turkey placed American pastor Andrew Brunson under house arrest after 21 months in prison.

Brunson, who ran a small church in Turkey for more than 20 years, was arrested in December 2016 over allegations of having helped a group that Ankara says was behind a failed military coup in July 2016.

On Wednesday, the White House announced that it was imposing sanctions on Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul and Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu. The sanctions involve freezing any property or assets on the US soil held by the two ministers. The sanctions also prevent American citizens from doing any business with the two ministers.

Erdogan warns of 'economic war' as lira hits fresh low

Erdogan also said in a speech on Friday that his country is was "face to face with an economic war," from which Ankara "will emerge victorious."

He made the remarks after the lira hit a fresh record low against the dollar amid rising tensions with Washington.

The lira tumbled overnight Friday to a historic low of TL5.11 to the US dollar, down 3.4 percent of its value against the dollar since the Trump administration's announcement of sanctions on the two Turkish ministers.

Erdogan also on Friday urged Turkish people to convert their hard currency and gold into lira and euros to bolster the lira and "show their resistance to the world" as he presented an economic action plan for the next 100 days.

Ankara is turning towards China to overcome what Erdogan said were "subjective evaluations" from ratings agencies. Erdogan said China, Mexico, Russia and India will be new markets for his country's exports.

The new economic action plan calls for Turkey to issue a renminbi bond and borrow from China to proceed with 400 new infrastructure and other showpiece projects whose value is estimated at $9 billion.

Erdogan's remarks came after Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met on the sidelines of a summit in Singapore on Friday and described the meeting as "constructive."

"We reached agreement on resolving problems through close cooperation and dialogue," Cavusoglu told reporters, though he added that settling the dispute would take time.

The US and Turkey are locked in dispute over a host of issues, with the feud over the pastor having raised questions whether Turkey should stay in the US-led military alliance.

Trump warned Ankara last week that its failure to return Brunson to America would provoke "large sanctions."

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