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Erdogan Vows US Boycott Amid Talks     08/14 06:16

   ANKARA, Turkey (AP) -- Turkey's president appeared to escalate a dispute 
with the United States that has helped foment a Turkish currency crisis, 
claiming Tuesday that his country will boycott U.S.-made electronic goods. 
Behind the scenes, however, diplomats resumed contact to ease tensions.

   Addressing a conference of his ruling party faithful in the capital, Recep 
Tayyip Erdogan added fuel to the spat with the U.S., even as local business 
groups called on his government to settle the dispute through diplomacy.

   Investors seemed to look through the fiery rhetoric, pushing the lira off 
record lows on reports that Turkish and U.S. government officials held talks on 
Monday.

   "We will implement a boycott against America's electronic goods," Erdogan 
told the conference. He suggested Turks would buy local or Korean phones 
instead of U.S.-made iPhones, though it was unclear how he intended to enforce 
the boycott.

   The move is seen to be in retaliation to United States' decision to sanction 
two Turkish ministers over the continued detention of an American pastor on 
terror-related charges, and to double tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum 
imports.

   Behind the scenes, however, diplomatic dialogue appears to have resumed. 
Turkey's state-run news agency and U.S. officials say U.S. National Security 
adviser John Bolton had met with the Turkish ambassador to Washington on Monday.

   That helped ease tensions in financial markets, with the Turkish lira 
stabilizing somewhat near record lows. It was up 5 percent on Tuesday, at 6.55 
per dollar, having fallen 42 percent so far this year, with most of those 
losses coming in recent weeks.

   Investors are worried not only about Turkey's souring relations with the 
U.S., a longtime NATO ally, but also Erdogan's economic policies and the 
country's high debt accumulated in foreign currencies. Independent economists 
say Erdogan should let the central bank raise interest rates to support the 
currency, but he wants low rates to keep the economic growth going.

   In a joint statement issued Tuesday, the industrialists' group TUSIAD and 
the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges called on the government to allow 
the central bank to raise interest rates to help overcome the currency crisis.

   The business groups also urged diplomatic efforts with the United States and 
an improvement in relations with the European Union, which is Turkey's major 
trading partner.

   The state-run Anadolu Agency said the finance chief would address hundreds 
of foreign investors on Thursday in a teleconference.


(KA)

 
 
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