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Trump doubles steel tariffs on Turkey, halts talks for trade deal

U.S. President Donald Trump on Oct. 14 announced economic actions against Turkey in response to its military offensive in northeast Syria, including a planned increase of tariffs on Turkish steel and the suspension of negotiations for a $100 billion bilateral trade pact.

Trump said tariffs on steel imports from Turkey would be raised back to 50% from 25%, while trade deal talks led by the U.S. Commerce Department would be "immediately" stopped.

The U.S. first increased the steel tariffs to 50% in August 2018 due to the detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson in Turkey. The tariff rate was reduced to 25% in May 2019.

Meanwhile, the Treasury Department placed Turkey's defense and energy ministries as well as their chiefs and the country's interior minister on a sanctions blacklist over Ankara's "actions that further deteriorate peace, security, and stability of the region." Treasury said it is prepared to impose additional sanctions on Turkish government officials and entities if needed.

The move followed an executive order signed by Trump authorizing "powerful" sanctions against Turkey's current and former government officials and individuals involved in the country's "destabilizing actions" in northeast Syria, including human rights abuses.

"The United States will aggressively use economic sanctions to target those who enable, facilitate, and finance these heinous acts in Syria," Trump said in a statement on Twitter. "I am fully prepared to swiftly destroy Turkey's economy if Turkish leaders continue down this dangerous and destructive path."

Trump said he has told Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that Turkey's military action is "precipitating a humanitarian crisis and setting conditions for possible war crimes."

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said he will urge the country's allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to take collective and individual diplomatic and economic measures against Turkey during his scheduled visit to Brussels next week.

Turkey's Foreign Ministry said Oct. 11 that the country will retaliate to any sanctions to be imposed by the U.S, according to a report from state-run Anadolu news agency.