Steps taken by the United States about pastor Andrew Brunson were not suitable for a strategic partner and were disrespectful to Turkey, President Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday and added that he has asked his government to freeze the assets in Turkey of the U.S. ministers of "justice and interior", in response to Washington's sanctions over the pastor.
"Today I will give our friends instructions to freeze the assets in Turkey of the American justice and interior ministers, if they have any (such assets)," Erdogan said in a televised speech in Ankara.
Washington this week imposed sanctions on two Turkish ministers over the case of Andrew Brunson, a U.S. pastor on trial in Turkey accused of backing terrorism.
Erdogan said the Turkish nation will not step back because of "threatening rhetoric and silly decisions" of sanctions. "Especially the latest step by America regarding pastor Brunson issue in Izmir, is an ill-fitted step for a strategic partner," he added.
Turkey and U.S. relations have hit a record-low over the past few months as Turkey accuses the United States of harboring Turkish Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen who Turkey accused of being behind the June 2016 failed coup against Erdogan.
But the tense relationship between the two NATO allies has been under pressure since 2003 when Erdogan first came to power as his government continues to seek an independent foreign policy which includes warm ties with Iran and Russia.