Published: Wed, October 11, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

USA operations, staff in Turkey unaffected by visa row

USA operations, staff in Turkey unaffected by visa row

But why has Turkey suspended visas for Americans?

"Recent events have forced the Turkish Government to reassess the commitment of the Government of the U.S.to the security of the Turkish Mission facilities and personnel", the Turkish embassy in Washington said in a statement.

The wife and son of the Turkish employee from the United States consulate were placed in pre-trial detention on Monday during an investigation related to preacher Fethullah Gülen's movement, an Ankara-appointed organizer of the failed coup from a year ago.

The escalating diplomatic row between Washington and Ankara has so far not impacted North Atlantic Treaty Organisation or USA military ties with Turkey.

"In order to minimize the number of the visitors to our diplomatic and consular missions in the USA while this assessment proceeds, effective immediately we have suspended all visa services regarding the U.S. citizens at our diplomatic and consular missions in the United States".

The move followed the arrest on October 4 of a Turkish national who works at the USA consulate in Istanbul for alleged involvement in the July 2016 coup attempt on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The American mission said that "all non-immigrant visa services at all USA diplomatic facilities in Turkey" had been suspended.

The US embassy has been unable to establish the reason behind the arrest of its Turkish staff member last week or what evidence exists against the employee, Mr Bass said, adding that he has not been allowed sufficient access to the employee's lawyer.

Overnight, the Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned a United States diplomat to urge the U.S. to lift the visa services suspension, saying it was causing "unnecessary tensions", as President Tayyip Erdogan also criticised the USA move in a press conference.

"This is certainly the biggest crisis in US-Turkish relations, I've seen", Gareth Jenkins, an Istanbul-based security analyst with the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute and the Silk Road Studies Program, told Radio Sputnik commenting on the countries' mutual decision to suspend non-immigrant visa services. Mr Gulen denies any connection with the coup.

Bass is shortly to leave Turkey after being nominated the U.S. envoy to Afghanistan and it is traditional for outgoing envoys in Turkey to make valedictory visits to top officials. The embassy on Thursday said it was "deeply disturbed" over the arrest and rejected the allegations as "wholly without merit".

Turkish officials had expressed hope of a new page in Ankara-Washington relations under President Donald Trump after repeated bickering in the last months of Barack Obama's term.

Turkey has urged the United States to review its suspension of visa services after the arrest of a U.S. consulate employee sharply escalated tensions between the two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies.

"This is about the situation in Syria and Kurdish self-defense forces, as well as about court proceedings and the demand to extradite Gulen", the ex-ambassador stressed.

"Is this befitting of an alliance, of a friendship?"

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