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The Turkish Erdogan warns the US against sanctions



President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned the US that sanctions would not force Ankara to "resign" after Donald Trump threatened to punish Turkey if a US pastor was not released.

"You can not go to Turkey Take a step back with the sanctions," Erdogan said in his first comments after Trump threatened Thursday's measures if Pastor Andrew Brunson did not fire.

"The US should not forget that it could lose a strong and sincere partner like Turkey if it does not change its attitude," he was quoted daily by Hürriyet.

Relations between NATO allies have deteriorated as a result of the imprisonment of Brunson, who led a Protestant church in the Aegean city of Izmir]. He was held in a Turkish prison for almost two years for terrorist attacks, but on Wednesday he was submerged House arrest.

Trump struck back Thursday calling for his immediate release and warning that the US would prevail. Major sanctions against Turkey over their long-term arrest "by Brunson

Ties have already been tense over several issues, including Washington's support for a Syrian Kurdish militia that sees Turkey as a terrorist group and failure to extradite the Pennsylvania-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gülen

– No "Bargaining Chip" –

Ankara accuses Gülen of ordering Erdogan's failed overthrow in 2016, a claim he severely denies.

The Washington Post on Friday reported a deal between Ankara and Washington to secure the release of a Turkish woman imprisoned in Israel in exchange for the freedom of Brunson.

Ebru Ozkan, 27, had been detained by Israel for over a month for spending hundreds of dollars on a "terrorist" group but had returned to Turkey on July 16.

Die Newspaper said the deal was "personally sealed" by Trump, but fell apart when Brunson was put under house arrest.

Erdogan responded to the demands, emphasizing that Turkey "would never have made Pastor Brunson a negotiating game."

However, he said Ankara has asked for Washington's help in Ozkan's return.

"But we did not say we'll give you Brunson, something that was not discussed," Erdogan said during a visit to South Africa.

Brunson risks up to 35 years imprisonment if convicted of carrying out activities for two groups considered by Turkey to be terrorist organizations – the Gülen Movement and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK)

Brunson rejects the allegations, while US officials have repeatedly insisted that the pastor is innocent.

Erdogan suggested in September that Turkey could free Brunson if the US handed him over Gülen – an offer denied by Washington.

Brunson headed a Protestant church in the Aegean city of Izmir


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