US tariffs to remain even if pastor freed: WH

By Servet Gunerigok

WASHINGTON (AA) – The White House on Wednesday said U.S. tariffs on aluminum and steel imports from Turkey are "specific to national security".

Speaking at a news conference, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said tariffs on Turkey would not be removed even if detained American Pastor Andrew Brunson, who is facing terrorism charges in Turkey, is released.

“The tariffs that are in place on steel would not be removed with the release of pastor Brunson. The tariffs are specific to national security," she said.

The U.S will consider the removal of the sanctions that have been placed on Turkey and are "specific to pastor Brunson and others" when the aforesaid people are released, Sanders added.

Turkey and the U.S. are currently experiencing rocky relations following Washington’s imposition of sanctions on two government ministers for not releasing American pastor Andrew Brunson, who faces terrorism-related charges in Turkey.

Last Friday President Donald Trump ramped up his attack on Turkey by doubling U.S. tariffs on Turkish aluminum and steel imports.

Turning to U.S. reaction against Turkey's increasing tariffs on American products, Sanders said, “the tariffs from Turkey are certainly regrettable, and a step in the wrong direction.

"The tariffs that the United States placed on Turkey were out of national security interest. Theirs are out of retaliation," she added.

Turkey has increased tariffs on several U.S. products, including alcohol, tobacco and cars, according to a new presidential decree published Wednesday in the official gazette.

*Michael Hernandez in Washington contributed to this story