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US Suspends Non-Immigrant Visa Services in Turkey After Arrest

11 October 2017

Amid the growing feud between Turkey and the United States, a visa suspension has been implemented by both countries.

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

But Erdogan said the arrest, and a police request to question a second consulate employee, showed "there is something cooking in the US consulate in Istanbul".

USA consulates in Turkey indefinitely halted all non-immigrant visa services on Sunday, the American embassy said, after one of the mission's Turkish staffers was arrested in the latest dispute between the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies.

The spat began last week when Turkey arrested a Turkish national employed at the United States consulate in Istanbul on allegations of terrorism and ties to the groups accused of orchestrating last years failed coup, the Gulen Movement.

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The measure prompted Turkey to immediately halt visa services in the a tit-for-tat response, and there were reports that a second U.S. Consulate employee had been taken into custody on Monday morning.

Turkish television, including the private NTV channel, said earlier that an arrest warrant had been issued for the employee, though this was not confirmed by Anadolu. "The issue must of course be resolved as soon as possible", he said, describing USA behaviour as "unbecoming" of an ally.

Washington has dismissed claims it was involved as a ludicrous conspiracy theory and Gulen himself denies any link to the plot.

If the decision was made after discussion with senior officials, "then we have nothing to discuss with the administration", he said.

The U.S. had said the arrest and allegations were "wholly without merit".

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Turkish officials had expressed hope of a new page in Ankara-Washington relations under President Donald Trump.

Turkey on Monday pressed the United States to reverse its decision to suspend most visa services for Turkish citizens, saying people from both countries are suffering from the move, a Turkish official said, even as the family of a USA government employee was taken into custody.

"They need to ask him, How can you break relations between the United States and Turkey, who gave you this authority?" he said.

"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.

But the current problems seem rooted in the failed July 2016 coup against Erdogan that the regime blames on agents and followers of Fethullah Gulen, an exiled Turkish religious leader living in Pennsylvania.

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Skinner said neither side had an interest in a "complete rupture" in ties but the crisis could "add further momentum to Turkey's pivot away from the West".

US Suspends Non-Immigrant Visa Services in Turkey After Arrest