WASHINGTON: The White House has said that Turkey's tariff hikes on US products in retaliation for sanctions against Ankara were "regrettable" and again called for the immediate release of American pastor Andrew Brunson.
"The tariffs from Turkey are certainly regrettable and a step in the wrong direction," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said, while stopping short of announcing fresh retaliatory measures.
The White House defended a slew of tariffs and sanctions that have substantially weakened Turkey's currency and forced regulators to take steps to curb financial flows out of the country.
"The tariffs that the United States placed on Turkey were out of national security interests. Theirs are out of retaliation," said Sanders yesterday.
She added that even if pastor Andrew Brunson was released, tariffs would remain in place on steel.
Sanders lamented that Turkey had treated Brunson, "who we know to be a very good person and a strong Christian who has done nothing wrong, very unfairly, very badly."
When asked about the impact of the US spat with Turkey on the country's currency, the spokeswoman said Washington was "monitoring the situation."
But she added: "Turkey's economic problems - those are a part of a long-term trend, something of its own making and not the result of any actions the United States has taken."