Turkey is 'target of economic war', Turkish president says

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We are once again facing a political, underhand plot.

He indicated Turkey's relationship with Washington was imperiled.

Relations between the two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies have taken a turn for the worse amid dispute over the detention in Turkey of U.S. evangelical pastor Andrew Brunson on terrorism charges. The White House said the newly imposed sanctions would take effect from August 13.

Turkey and the USA have disagreed on a number of issues since Trump came into office, including Washington's support of Kurdish groups in neighbouring Syria and its refusal to extradite Fethullah Gülen, the cleric Erdogan claims is behind the botched attempt to unseat him.

Erdogan appealed to Turks to exchange dollars and gold for Turkish lira to support the plunging currency.

ISTANBUL-Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he stands by his opposition to high interest rates, amid sharp declines in the value of the lira, saying the currency's weakness doesn't reflect the country's economic realities.

US President Donald Trump said Friday he had doubled tariffs on steel and aluminum from Turkey, adding to pressure on its troubled economy amid a diplomatic row with Washington over the detention of a pastor.

"We are never accepting this order which declared economic war to the entire world and which held countries to ransom through sanction threats", he added, referring to the U.S. administration. "You dare to sacrifice 81-million Turkey for a priest who is linked to terror groups?"

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Erdogan said those who plotted against Turkey in a failed coup attempt in July 2016 were now trying to target the country through its economy, and pledged to fight back.

Washington slapped sanctions on Turkey's interior and justice ministers this week, angering Ankara which responded with the tit-for-tat move, with Turkey saying they will freeze the assets of the United States "justice and interior ministers" last week.

Last week, a Turkish delegation went to Washington and met US counterparts but there was no breakthrough.

Analysts say that while Washington's sanctions against Ankara sparked the immediate crisis, Turkey's economy has been risking trouble for a while due to high inflation and the weak lira.

Erdogan, who has called himself the "enemy of interest rates", wants cheap credit from banks to fuel growth.

Erdogan had on Saturday described interest rates as a "tool of exploitation", in remarks that may not be warmly welcomed by the markets.

Erdogan also hit back at United States authorities for convicting Mehmet Hakan Atilla, 47, deputy director general of Turkish lender Halkbank on charges of helping Iran evade United States sanctions on billions of dollars of oil proceeds.

This day, the spokesman of the Turkish government, Ibrahim Kalin, assured that these actions will not be able to bring down their country, but will isolate the United States even more in the worldwide context.

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