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Erdogan: Turkey cannot remain silent over use of sanctions as 'weapons'

September 25, 2018 at 8:00 pm

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that his country could not remain silent over the use of sanctions as weapons while it is in a bitter standoff with the United States over the fate of an American evangelical Christian pastor detained by Ankara.

Turkey says the United States should respect the legal process for the pastor, Andrew Brunson, whose trial in Turkey on terrorism charges has infuriated US President Donald Trump. In August, Trump authorized a doubling of duties on aluminum and steel imported from Turkey.

Turkey also has doubled tariffs on US cars, alcohol and tobacco imports.

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“None of us can remain silent to the arbitrary cancellation of commercial agreements and the use of economic sanctions as weapons,” Erdogan said in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly.

In addition to its decision to ramp up tariffs on imports of Turkish steel and aluminum, the Trump administration has imposed sanctions on two top officials in Erdogan’s Cabinet as part of its efforts to pressure Turkey into freeing Brunson.

“We are in favor of solving our problems through conducting a constructive dialogue on equal terms,” Erdogan said.

Ankara and Washington are also at odds over diverging interests in Syria. Washington has expressed concern that NATO member Turkey’s planned deployment of the Russian-made S-400 could risk the security of some US-made weapons and other technology used by Turkey, including the F-35 jet.