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Zarif: Sanctions on Turkish ministers sign of US ‘extortion in lieu of statecraft’

Zarif: Sanctions on Turkish ministers sign of US ‘extortion in lieu of statecraft’

Zarif: Sanctions on Turkish ministers sign of US ‘extortion in lieu of statecraft’
August 02
21:54 2018

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has lambasted Washington for using sanctions – this time against Turkey – as a tool to pressure other countries.

The United States Treasury Department announced sanctions on Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu and Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul on Wednesday over the detention of an American pastor. 

Zarif wrote on his official Twitter account on Thursday that the “unlawful” sanctions against two officials from a country that is a US ally show that Washington’s addition to coercive measures knows no bounds. 

 

The White House has said it was “not happy” with Turkey's incarceration of pastor Andrew Brunson. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders has said US President Donald Trump and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan had discussed the issue “on several occasions.”

Brunson, an evangelical Christian pastor originally from North Carolina, has been held in a Turkish jail for almost two years.

He is accused of having links with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the Gulen movement, which Turkey blames for the 2016 failed military coup.

The pastor has denied the charges, but faces up to 35 years in jail if found guilty. Last week, a Turkish court allowed Brunson to be transferred to house arrest.

Ankara has also condemned the fresh US sanctions and vowed retaliatory measures.

“This aggressive stance that does not serve any interest will be retaliated in the same, without delay,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “We call the US to reverse this erroneous decision.” 

Ties between the two countries have been on a nosedive in recent months over a host of issues, including Washington’s policy of backing Kurdish militants in Syria.

Washington is also concerned about Turkey’s intent to install Russia's S-400 air defense system, deemed incompatible with NATO systems.

On Wednesday, the US Senate approved a defense spending bill that would bar the delivery of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey until the Pentagon completed an assessment of the Ankara-Washington relations.

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Alexander Ionov

Alexander Ionov

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