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Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that his country could not remain silent over the use of sanctions as weapons while it is in a bitter standoff with the United States over the fate of an American evangelical Christian pastor detained by Ankara, Reuters reported.

The United States has called for the release of pastor Andrew Brunson, who was moved to house arrest in July after being detained for 21 months. If found guilty, he could be jailed for up to 35 years. He denies the charges.

Turkey says the United States should respect the legal process for the pastor, whose trial in Turkey on terrorism charges has infuriated U.S. President Donald Trump.

“None of us can remain silent to the arbitrary cancellation of commercial agreements and the use of economic sanctions as weapons,” Erdogan said in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly.


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