The White House said Wednesday that Turkey's tariff increases on U.S. products in response to U.S. sanctions on Ankara were "regrettable" and "a step in the wrong direction."
White House Press secretary Sarah Sanders claimed that while U.S. tariffs on Turkey were "out of national security interests," Turkey's were "out of retaliation."
Turkey on Wednesday doubled tariffs on several U.S. products, including alcohol and tobacco products and cars. Import tariffs on alcohol will be 140 percent and 120 percent on automobiles. The tariffs on cosmetic products were increased by 60 percent.
Sanders also said that tariffs on steel imports from Turkey would not be removed if U.S. terror-linked pastor Andrew Brunson were released, but Washington would consider lifting sanctions.
The press secretary denied responsibility for Turkey's economic tension, which comes after U.S. President Donald Trump increased U.S. tariffs on Turkish aluminum and steel imports to 20 percent and 50 percent, respectively.
When asked about the tariffs impact on the Turkish currency, she said Washington is "monitoring the situation."
Turkey's move to increase tariffs come a day after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan initiated a boycott campaign against U.S. electronic goods, singling out Apple iPhones.
President Erdoğan said Tuesday that Turkey will impose a boycott against U.S. electronic products amid an ongoing and deepening rift between the two NATO allies over a number of issues.
Turkey and the U.S. have been locked in a heated crisis emanating from unjust sanctions and the actions of Trump, as Washington levied sanctions on Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu and Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gül for not releasing American pastor Brunson, who faces terrorism charges in Turkey.
Serving at the Diriliş (Resurrection) Protestant Church in the western province of İzmir, Brunson was arrested in October 2016 and moved to house arrest on July 25 due to health problems. He is scheduled to appear before a court in October for his third hearing after the court rejected an appeal for his release in a July 18 hearing.
Brunson, a Christian pastor from North Carolina who has lived in Turkey for more than two decades, was indicted on charges of helping the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), which is responsible for the failed 2016 coup, as well as for supporting the PKK.
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