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Erdogan says Turkey will boycott US electronic products as lira steadies

Boycott pledge comes hours after Trump signed defence budget halting US sales of its F-35 fighter jet to Turkey for at least 90 days
Instead of the iPhone, Turks can buy Samsung, the president said on TV (AFP)

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Tuesday that Turkey will boycott American electronics, hours after the US temporarily suspended military aircraft sales to Ankara as tensions between the two countries escalated.

"We will boycott US electronic goods," Erdogan said in a televised speech.

"If they have the iPhone, there's Samsung on the other side," he said, referring to US giant Apple's iconic phone and the top South Korean brand.

Speaking at the AKP's 17th anniversary ceremony on Tueday, Turkey's finance and treasury minister and Erdogan's son-in-law, Berat Albayrak said: "We will continue to take our firm steps in accordance with the free market rules. We will protect our Turkish lira.

"Everybody can see clearly now that the dollar has lost its credibility," he added, asserting that the Turkish lira "will get stronger in the near future".

Late on Monday, US President Donald Trump signed the country’s yearly defence budget, stipulating that the US will halt sales of its F-35 fighter jet to Turkey for at least 90 days.

The law asks the defence department to provide Congress with a report on the relationship between the United States and Turkey, and would block the sale of major defence equipment until the report is complete.

The United States and Turkey have been at loggerheads over the imprisonment of Andrew Brunson, an American evangelical pastor. The US has demanded his release while Turkey claims Brunson took part in the attempted coup in 2016.

The move came after the Turkish lira hit record low on Monday, later rising after Turkey's central bank pledged to provide liquidity and cut lira and foreign currency reserve requirements for Turkish banks.

Erdogan, who promised the currency would return to "rational levels", accused the US of seeking to stab his country in the back blamed and said he expected attacks on the economy to continue.

The Turkish lira rebounded Tuesday against dollar, a day after the central bank took a raft of measures in a bid to soothe the markets. 

US denies new Brunson deadline

White House National Security Adviser John Bolton met on Monday with Turkey's ambassador to the United States to discuss Brunson's detention, the White House said.

"At the Turkish ambassador's request, Ambassador John Bolton met with Ambassador Serdar Kilic of Turkey [on Monday] in the White House. They discussed Turkey's continued detention of Pastor Andrew Brunson and the state of the US-Turkey relationship," said White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders.

US officials dismissed news reports that Washington had set a deadline for Turkey to hand over Brunson.

Back in May, Turkey vowed to retaliate if the United States halts weapons sales to the country, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.

What's really behind the Turkey-US dispute? 
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Cavusoglu said that a proposal put forward in the US House of Representatives to temporarily halt weapons sales was not befitting of the alliance between NATO allies. 

"If the United States imposes sanctions on us or takes such a step, Turkey will absolutely retaliate," Cavusoglu told CNN Turk. "What needs to be done is the US needs to let go of this."

Turkey and the US are military allies in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria, but Turkey has become increasingly worried about US backing for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a Kurdish-led coalition of fighters in Syria.

The SDF has been Washington’s primary regional ally in the fight against IS and has received US equipment and air support. US special forces are also based in the northern Kurdish-controlled regions of Syria.

Turkey has long claimed that the group is linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a Kurdish militant group that has waged an insurgency against Turkey.

Like Turkey, the US considers the PKK a terrorist group.

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