05:22 GMT +322 February 2019
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    Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during an Iftar, the evening meal breaking the Ramadan fast, at his palace in Ankara, Turkey, Saturday, May 19, 2018

    Turkey's Erdogan Defiant Amid US Tensions: 'They Have Dollars, We Have Our God'

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    Turkey's president called on Turks to keep calm as their country's currency slid to new lows against the US dollar in Friday trading.

    "Don't heed them. Don't forget, if they have their dollars, we have our people, our God," President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a speech. "We are working hard. Look at what we were 16 years ago, and look at us now," he added, recalling the ruling AKP party's 16 years in power.

    "I want your patience and ardor," the president pleaded.

    The Turkish lira hit a low of 5.9 liras per US dollar on Friday following a Turkish diplomatic delegation's empty-handed return from Washington amid a scandal over the detention of Andrew Brunson, a US pastor whom Washington says has been unlawfully detained, but whom Ankara suspects of being affiliated with the Gulen movement, a group Turkish authorities say was behind the 2016 coup attempt. The lira has now lost over 30 percent of its value against the dollar since last year.

    Also Friday, Erdogan vowed that Turkey would not lose what is becoming an "economic war" with Washington. Last week, the leader called on Turks to trade their foreign currency and gold into lira to help support the national currency. 

    On Thursday, the US media reported that Washington was mulling further "punitive measures" against Ankara over the Brunson dispute. The US slapped two Turkish officials with sanctions last month, with Turkey promising to retaliate by freezing the US justice and interior secretaries' assets in Turkey.

    In addition to the Brunson case, the two NATO allies have faced tensions over Ankara's purchase of Russia's S-400 air defense missile systems, with Washington threatening to stop the delivery of its new F-35 stealth fighters to Turkey as a result. Tensions over the status of the Kurds in Syria, the US refusal to extradite the alleged Gulen movement leader, Fethullah Gulen, and other issues including the US conviction of a Turkish banker accused of evading sanctions against Iran have further complicated relations between the two allies.


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    lira, dollar, Andrew Brunson, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey, United States
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