Turkey ready for trade with partners, including Russian Federation, in national currencies - Erdogan

Devlet Bahçel urged Turkey not to release the detained American pastor

Devlet Bahçel urged Turkey not to release the detained American pastor

Speaking after U.S. President Donald Trump doubled tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum imports, Erdogan described Friday's 18 percent fall in the lira to a record low as the "missiles" of an economic war waged against Turkey.

"The basic reason the exchange rate has gone off the rails is that confidence in the management of the economy has disappeared both domestically and overseas", said Seyfettin Gursel, a prominent economist and a professor at Turkey's Bahcesehir University.

Erdogan's "tight grip" on the central bank and the fact "higher interest rates do no fit with Turkey's economic growth strategy" meant that the central bank has kept interest rates on hold, Nora Neuteboom, economist at ABN Amro, told AFP.

A Turkish delegation visited Washington for talks this week but left with no signs of a breakthrough.

The Turkish financial crisis set off a wave of selling across emerging markets, reviving the spectre of contagion that has been the sector's Achilles heel for decades.

The president, who says a shadowy "interest rate lobby" and Western credit ratings agencies are attempting to bring down Turkey's economy, appealed to his countrymen's patriotism.

"Change the euros, the dollars and the gold that you are keeping beneath your pillows into lira at our banks. This is a national, domestic battle", he said.

"Some countries have engaged in behaviour that protects coup plotters and knows no laws or justice", he said.

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Aaron Stein, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council think tank in Washington, said Trump has "personalized the Brunson issue and feels like Erdogan cheated him".

In the New York Times, Erdogan warned Washington not to risk relations with Ankara, saying otherwise his country would look for "new friends and allies".

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North Atlantic Treaty Organisation uses the Incirlik Air Base in Turkey to fight against IS and there has been some domestic pressure on Mr Erdogan to close it.

And he brushed off the tariffs.

Although Erdogan struck a defiant tone, his foreign ministry called for diplomacy and dialogue to solve problems with Washington and Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan said "we implore President Trump to return to the negotiating table".

Economist Chad Bown, who specializes in trade issues, said Turkey accounted for just over four percent of USA steel imports in 2017, but a very small fraction of the aluminum brought into the country.

The latest escalation between Ankara and Washington was denounced by the Turkish press, with pro-government daily Sabah saying "the currency attack" was no different from the attempted coup of July 2016. Gulen denies the allegation.

American evangelicals have pressed Mr Trump for action on Pastor Brunson, who was held in prison for nearly two years but was recently moved to house arrest.

His cause resonates with Trump's Christian conservative supporters, who could be influential as Republicans seek to retain control of Congress in midterm elections in November.

In a separate opinion piece in the pro-government newspaper Daily Sabah, Erdogan's spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Turkey's efforts to solve the crisis with diplomatic methods had been dismissed by the Trump administration, warning that "the USA runs the risk of losing Turkey" as an ally.

"This could be the most expensive pastor in world history", Sekulow said, referring to the harm being done to Turkey's economy.

"The price of the food that I buy increases day by day, the fuel that I put in my auto to distribute lunches is more expensive, but I can not raise my prices from one day to the next", she said.

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