ISTANBUL (Reuters) – The Turkish lira firmed slightly against the dollar in thin trade on Tuesday, shrugging off comments by U.S. President Donald Trump ruling out agreeing to any demands from Turkey to gain the release of a detained American pastor.
A 100 Turkish lira banknote is seen on top of 50 Turkish lira banknotes in this picture illustration in Istanbul, Turkey August 14, 2018. REUTERS/Murad Sezer/Illustration
In an interview with Reuters on Monday, Trump said he was not concerned that his tough stance could end up hurting European and emerging market economies.
The lira TRYTOM=D3 stood at 6.0700 against the U.S. currency at 0500 GMT, gaining from a close of 6.0865 on Monday, when Turkish markets entered a holiday to mark the Muslim Eid al-Adha festival which continues for the rest of the week.
Turkish government officials did not comment on Trump’s remarks as they spoke after prayers to mark the start of the Muslim Eid al-Adha festival.
Devlet Bahceli, leader of a nationalist party allied with Erdogan’s AK Party, told reporters: “We have no business with those who love Brunson more than us”.
Erdogan had been expected to speak to reporters after morning prayers but has not done so. He spoke by telephone on Tuesday with soldiers stationed near Turkey’s Iraq border to send them Eid al-Adha greetings.
“I believe that as long as you stand tall our flag will not fall, our call to prayer will not fall silent and this homeland of ours will not be divided,” Hurriyet newspaper reported Erdogan as saying.
“Turkey remains a safe harbor and will continue to be so while the world, particularly our region, passes through a difficult period,” Vice President Fuat Oktay told reporters after he prayed in Istanbul.
Trump said he thought he had a deal with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan when he helped persuade Israel to free a detained Turkish citizen. He had thought Erdogan would then release pastor Andrew Brunson, who denies Turkey’s allegations that he was involved in a plot against Erdogan two years ago.
“I think it’s very sad what Turkey is doing. I think they’re making a terrible mistake. There will be no concessions,” he said.
Turkey has demanded that the United States hand over Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric in the United States suspected in the coup plot against Erdogan, but the United States has balked at this.
On Monday, Erdogan appealed to Turks’ religious and patriotic feelings ahead of the Muslim holiday, promising they would not be brought “to their knees” by the crisis that has battered the lira.
Reporting by Daren Butler; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and David Dolan