Pakistan stands by Turkey in row with Trump over pastor’s arrest

Islamabad: As the US – Turkey ties continued to sour, Pakistan Monday said it would stand along with its long term ally Turkey and voiced opposition to the threats of imposition of unilateral sanctions by the US President over arrest of an American pastor.

“Pakistan, in principle, is opposed to imposition of unilateral sanctions against any country. The solution to any and all issues should lie in dialogue, mutual understanding and goodwill,” the Foreign Office said in a statement.

“Any steps or actions to the contrary only undermine the peace and stability and make the solution to a problem more difficult and intractable,” the statement said.

The Foreign Office spokesperson said Pakistan acknowledges and greatly appreciates Turkey’s invaluable role towards regional and international peace and stability. It is also a vital member and engine of the global economy, the statement said.

“The people and the Government of Pakistan reiterate their strong support for the Government and the people of Turkey in their quest for peace and prosperity, and as always, will continue to stand by them towards the achievement of these shared goals,” the Foreign Office said.

A dispute between NATO allies Turkey and the United States — which reached new intensity over the detention of an American pastor — has hammered the lira and also raised questions over the future partnership between Washington and Ankara.

It caused global market jitters last week as investors fretted over potential economic contagion from Turkey, particularly to European banks. The already embattled Turkish lira tumbled some 16 percent against the dollar on Friday as US President Donald Trump said he had doubled tariffs on steel and aluminium from Turkey.

´Sanctions unacceptable´

American pastor Andrew Brunson has been held since October 2016 on terror and espionage charges and, if convicted, could face a jail term of 35 years. Trump has described his detention as a “total disgrace” and urged Erdogan to free him immediately.

A delegation led by Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal failed to secure a deal last Wednesday in talks in Washington on a number of issues including Brunson.

Erdogan confirmed media reports that Washington gave Onal´s delegation a deadline of 6:00 pm last Wednesday for the release of Brunson “otherwise the sanctions will begin”.

“President Erdogan of Turkey is showing no sign of backing down against the US,” said market analyst David Madden at CMC Markets UK, adding the crisis risked having a “knock-on effect” around Europe.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said it was not possible to understand or accept the sanctions and threats. “We expect the US to stand by our traditional friendly relations and our relationship as allies at the NATO,” he told a gathering in Ankara.

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