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White House: US Not Removing Tariffs on Turkey Even if Pastor Brunson Released

© Sputnik / Alexey Agarishev / Go to the mediabankThe White House in Washington, DC
The White House in Washington, DC - Sputnik International
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The United States will not remove steel and aluminum tariffs placed on Turkish imports even if Turkey decides to release American Pastor Andrew Brunson, White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a press briefing on Wednesday.

"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. The sanctions, however, that have been placed on Turkey are specific to Pastor Brunson and others that we feel are being held unfairly and we would consider that at that point," Sanders told reporters.

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The sanctions that could be removed were put in place against Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul and Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu over allegedly having "leading roles" in the imprisonment of US pastor Andrew Brunson as well as in other human rights abuses.

Sanders said that tariffs put in place earlier on Wednesday by Turkey were both regrettable and a step in the wrong direction.

While the United States imposed tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum, and then doubled them on Friday all because of national security concerns, Turkey imposed the levy on US products merely for retaliation, Sanders added.

Turkey jailed Brunson two years ago for his alleged ties to the movement founded by Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara has accused of orchestrating the 2016 failed military coup. In late July, Brunson was released from a Turkish prison and placed under house arrest.

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