Erdogan warns US it may lose Turkey as 'strategic partner'

WION Web Team
Turkey Published: Aug 12, 2018, 09:12 AM(IST)

File photo: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Photograph:( Others )

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned the United States on Saturday that the US may lose a "strategic partner" if it continues to demand the release of an American pastor who was arrested in Turkey on terrorism charges.

President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday, "If the US is turning its back on us...choosing a pastor instead, sorry...we continue our path with decisive steps, This treatment by America of its strategic partner has annoyed us, it has upset us".

While addressing a rally in the northern province of Ordu, Erdogan said it was wrong to punish Turkey for a priest who was lodged there. He further added that the US chose a pastor over the strategic partner in NATO. 

Turkey authorities have refused to release US pastor Andrew Brunson who was arrested two years ago in the country.

Ankara has been demanding a 20-year prison sentence for Brunson who was granted house arrest in July.

Brunson is accused of being linked to the PKK Kurdish guerrilla organisation and to cleric Fethullah Gülen.

Gulen lives in exile in the US and is accused by Turkey for the failed coup against Erdogan in 2016.

The US government had imposed economic sanctions against two Turkish ministers involved in Brunson's arrest.

US President Donald Trump also announced increase tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminium by up to 50 and 20 per cent respectively on Friday.

The tariffs have been increased at a time when Turkey's lira is at an all-time low.

In an attempt to reduce tensions between Turkey and US, the delegation from Turkey's Ministry of Foreign affairs travelled this week to the US.

The two governments have been at odds over a wide range of topics - from diverging interests in Syria to Turkey's ambition to buy Russian defence systems and the case of evangelical pastor Andrew Brunson, who is on trial in Turkey on terrorism charges.

 

(With inputs from Agencies)

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