Tariffs on Turkey to remain even if pastor Brunson is freed: White House

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White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders speaks during a briefing in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House on date} in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN

The White House has said that US tariffs on aluminum and steel imports from Turkey are “specific to national security” and would remain in place even if an American cleric detained in Turkey is freed as demanded by the Trump administration, the Hürriyet Daily News reported.

Speaking at a press briefing on Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said tariffs on Turkey would not be removed even if detained American pastor Andrew Brunson, who standing trial on “terrorism” charges in Turkey, is released. “The tariffs that are in place on steel would not be removed with the release of pastor Brunson. The tariffs are specific to national security,” she said.

The US would consider the removal of sanctions that have been imposed on Turkey and are “specific to pastor Brunson and others” when the people in question are released, Sanders added.

Turkey and the US are currently experiencing rocky relations following Washington’s imposition of sanctions on two government ministers complicit in the close to two-year detention of Brunson and the violation of his human rights.

Last Friday President Donald Trump ramped up his attack on Turkey by doubling US tariffs on Turkish aluminum and steel imports. Explaining the US reaction to Turkey increasing tariffs on American products, Sanders said, “The tariffs from Turkey are certainly regrettable and a step in the wrong direction.

“The tariffs that the United States placed on Turkey were out of national security interests. Theirs are out of retaliation,” she added.

Turkey has increased tariffs on a number of US products, including alcohol, tobacco and cars, according to a new presidential decree published Wednesday in the Official Gazette.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday also called for a boycott of American electronics.

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