- Associated Press - Monday, October 9, 2017

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) - 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.

The U.S. on Sunday suspended the issuing of visas for Turks hoping to visit or study in the United States following the arrest of an employee of the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul last week that deepened tensions between the two NATO allies. The measure prompted Turkey to immediately halt visa services in the U.S. in a tit-for-tat response.

The U.S. embassy’s second-in-charge, Philip Kosnett, was called to the ministry, on Monday where officials conveyed “their expectations” for the United States to halt “the unnecessary escalation” of tensions and to reverse the decision that “victimizes” both Turkish and U.S. citizens, a Turkish Foreign Ministry official said.

The ministry’s top official also discussed the issue with U.S. Ambassador John Bass in a late Sunday telephone call, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with government rules.

Despite the seemingly friendly relations between U.S. President Donald Trump and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, ties between the two countries are tense over the arrest of Metin Topuz, a U.S. Consulate employee of Turkish nationality, and other Americans over alleged ties to a movement led by U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom the Turkish government blames for last summer’s failed coup. Gulen denies involvement.

Topuz is accused of espionage and “attempting to overthrow the Turkish government and constitution.” Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency reported that he allegedly communicated with former police chiefs in a 2013 corruption probe, 121 people involved in the attempted coup and hundreds of people using an encrypted mobile messaging application.

The U.S. Embassy said it was “deeply disturbed” by the arrest and has complained of reports in Turkey’s pro-government media that it said aimed to try Topuz in the media instead of a court of law.

Other Americans held in Turkey include Pastor Andrew Brunson who was detained last year and is accused of terror-related charges for alleged ties to Gulen’s movement. Erdogan has linked the pastor’s possible release or deportation to Washington agreeing to extradite Gulen to Turkey.

The Turkish lira recorded a sharp drop against the dollar on Monday, following the mutual suspension of visa services.


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