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Photo: Stringer/Getty Images

Turkey slapped retaliatory sanctions on two U.S. officials Saturday which "appeared more symbolic than practical," the Associated Press reports.

The big picture: The U.S. hit Turkey's justice and interior ministers with sanctions earlier this week over the detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that the sanctions showed "serious disrespect toward Turkey," and ordered officials to "freeze the assets of America's justice and interior ministers in Turkey, if there are any."

The sanctions imposed by the U.S. sent Turkey's currency "tumbling," per the AP.

  • Erdogan explained on Saturday: "We think there is no problem we cannot solve with the American administration," and told the Trump administration to "return to its good senses."

It is not evident who the sanctions would impact as the U.S. has a different cabinet structure than Turkey and it is unclear whether the officials have any holdings in the country.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Saturday, before Turkey's sanctions were announced, that "Turkey is a NATO partner with whom the United States has every intention of continuing to work cooperatively," the AP also reported.

  • He also said that he made clear to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, that it's "well past time that Pastor Brunson be freed." Adding, "I am hopeful that in the coming days we will see that occur."

Brunson is currently on house arrest after spending more than a year and a half in Turkish prison on terrorism charges.

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled late Wednesday that restrictions previously imposed on New York places of worship by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) during the coronavirus pandemic violated the First Amendment.

Why it matters: The decision in a 5-4 vote heralds the first significant action by the new President Trump-appointed conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who cast the deciding vote in favor of the Catholic Church and Orthodox Jewish synagogues.

USAID chief tests positive for coronavirus

An Air Force cargo jet delivers USAID supplies to Russia earlier this year. Photo: Mikhail Metzel/TASS via Getty Images

The acting administrator of the United States Agency for International Development informed senior staff Wednesday he has tested positive for coronavirus, two sources familiar with the call tell Axios.

Why it matters: John Barsa, who staffers say rarely wears a mask in their office, is the latest in a series of senior administration officials to contract the virus. His positive diagnosis comes amid broader turmoil at the agency following the election.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
11 hours ago - Health

COVID-19 shows a bright future for vaccines

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Promising results from COVID-19 vaccine trials offer hope not just that the pandemic could be ended sooner than expected, but that medicine itself may have a powerful new weapon.

Why it matters: Vaccines are, in the words of one expert, "the single most life-saving innovation ever," but progress had slowed in recent years. New gene-based technology that sped the arrival of the COVID vaccine will boost the overall field, and could even extend to mass killers like cancer.