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Trump imposes sanctions on Turkey

By Liu Xuan in Beijing and Heng Weili in New York | China Daily | Updated: 2019-10-16 10:35

Turkey-backed Syrian opposition fighters prepare their guns in Syria's northern region of Manbij on Oct 14. [Photo/IC]

Increased steel tariffs part of measures announced to counter Syria offensive

The United States on Monday announced a series of sanctions targeting Turkey's economy in a bid to restrain the country's assault on Kurdish fighters and civilians in Syria.

President Donald Trump signed an order authorizing the sanctions against Turkey and raised tariffs on steel imports from the country.

The US Department of Treasury announced later in the day that it had designated for sanctions Turkey's Ministry of National Defense and the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, as well as the heads of the two ministries and the minister of the interior, for their involvement in Turkey's actions, according to Xinhua News Agency.

The Treasury Department said the military actions have "further deteriorated the peace, security, and stability of the region", adding it is prepared to impose additional sanctions on Turkish officials and entities "as necessary".

Trump also said on Monday he would stop negotiating with Turkey on a $100 billion trade deal and that the tariffs on the country's steel imports would be raised to 50 percent.

The statement promising an executive order said it would enable Washington to impose "powerful additional sanctions" on those who may be involved in serious human rights abuses, obstructing a cease-fire, preventing displaced persons from returning home and forcibly repatriating refugees.

"I am fully prepared to swiftly destroy Turkey's economy if Turkish leaders continue down this dangerous and destructive path," Trump said. "The order will authorize a broad range of consequences, including financial sanctions, the blocking of property and barring entry into the United States."

The US also called on Turkey to stop the invasion and declare a cease-fire. Trump is sending Vice-President Mike Pence and national security adviser Robert O'Brien to Ankara as soon as possible in an attempt to begin negotiations, Xinhua reported.

Direct conversation

Pence said Trump spoke directly to Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who promised not to attack the border town of Kobani, which in 2015 witnessed the Islamic State group's first defeat in a battle by US-backed Kurdish fighters.

"President Trump communicated to him very clearly that the United States of America wants Turkey to stop the invasion, implement an immediate cease-fire and to begin to negotiate with Kurdish forces in Syria to bring an end to the violence," Pence said.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Tuesday called on Turkey to stop military actions and come back to the right track of resolving the issue in a political manner.

Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a daily news conference that military actions might result in terrorists escaping and the re-emergence of the Islamic State group. Geng urged the Turkish leadership to shoulder its responsibility to work jointly with the international community to fight terrorism.

The sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria should be respected and safeguarded, he said.

Li Weijian, a researcher at Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, said the US sanctions and warning came after Turkey crossed the bottom line set by the US, hurting Washington's interests and its international image.

"The bottom line that the US set for Turkey was not to cause any humanitarian crisis and not to give the US too much pressure," he said. "However, Turkey's military actions have induced a huge humanitarian crisis, leading more and more people, including Americans, to condemn the US' decision to withdraw its troops from the region, as well as for abandoning the Kurds."

Trump has to use the economic measures in response to the invasion, Li said. "After all, it was he who gave the withdrawal order."

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Monday he would travel to the NATO headquarters in Brussels next week to urge European allies to impose "diplomatic and economic measures" against Turkey, according to The Associated Press.

AP, Xinhua and Zhou Jin in Beijing contributed to this story.

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