Wielding tariffs as a foreign policy weapon, President Donald Trump said Friday he would increase duties on steel and aluminum from Turkey as the two nations argue about a imprisoned American.
"I have just authorized a doubling of Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum with respect to Turkey as their currency, the Turkish Lira, slides rapidly downward against our very strong Dollar!" Trump tweeted. "Aluminum will now be 20% and Steel 50%."
He added: "Our relations with Turkey are not good at this time!'
The tweeted tariff threat came little more than a week after the Trump administration placed sanctions on Turkish officials over the imprisonment of American pastor Andrew Brunson, calling his detention "unjust" and "unacceptable."
The sanctions targeted Turkey’s Minister of Justice, Abdulhamit Gul, and Minister of Interior, Suleyman Soylu. Those penalties have contributed to a slide in the value of the Turkey's currency, the lira, amid fears of a broad economic crisis.
The tariff hikes come just days after Turkey’s deputy foreign minister was in Washington to meet with U.S. officials on a range of contentious issues, including Brunson's detention.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert declined to detail those conversations Thursday during a briefing with reporters.
"Obviously you all know that we have a very broad relationship with Turkey and a host of issues that we talk about with the Turkish government whenever we do meet," Nauert said Thursday. "Yesterday we had a wide-ranging conversation with Turkish government officials. We made it clear that Pastor Brunson needs to be returned home. Much of this, though, we’re not going to negotiate in public."
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