Zarif: Sanctions on Turkish ministers sign of U.S. 'extortion in lieu of statecraft'

August 4, 2018 - 9:35

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has lambasted Washington for using sanctions - this time against Turkey - as a tool to pressure other countries.

The United States Treasury Department announced sanctions on Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu and Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul on Wednesday over the detention of an American pastor. 

Zarif wrote on his official Twitter account on Thursday that the "unlawful" sanctions against two officials from a country that is a U.S. ally show that Washington’s addition to coercive measures knows no bounds. 

“U.S.’ unlawful sanctions against two Turkish ministers - from an allied country - illustrates not just U.S. administration's policy of pressure and extortion in lieu of statecraft, but that its addiction to sanctions knows no bounds,” Zarif tweeted.

Zarif added that new sanctions imposed on Turkish ministers further corroborated his earlier remarks that the United States is addicted to sanctions and that “its addiction to sanctions knows no bounds.”

The United States Treasury Department imposed sanctions on two Turkish officials on Wednesday over detention of a U.S. pastor with White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders, calling Andrew Brunson’s incarceration "unfair and unjust."

Noting that Washington was "not happy with Turkey's decision not to release" the pastor, she added that President Donald Trump and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, had discussed the issue "on several occasions."

Brunson, an evangelical Christian pastor originally from North Carolina, has been held in a Turkish jail for almost two years.

He is accused of having links with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the Gulen movement, which Turkey blames for the 2016 failed military coup.

The pastor has denied the charges, but faces up to 35 years in jail if found guilty. Last week, a Turkish court allowed Brunson to be transferred to house arrest.

Ankara has also condemned the fresh U.S. sanctions and vowed retaliatory measures.

“This aggressive stance that does not serve any interest will be retaliated in the same, without delay,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “We call the U.S. to reverse this erroneous decision.” 

Ties between the two countries have been on a nosedive in recent months over a host of issues, including Washington’s policy of backing Kurdish militants in Syria.

Washington is also concerned about Turkey’s intent to install Russia's S-400 air defense system, deemed incompatible with NATO systems.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate approved a defense spending bill that would bar the delivery of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey until the Pentagon completed an assessment of the Ankara-Washington relations.

(Source: Press TV)