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Turkey's Erdogan blames United States envoy for diplomatic crisis

Turkey's Erdogan blames United States envoy for diplomatic crisis”

The diplomatic ties between the United States and Turkey took a huge hit on Monday when the two countries made a decision to suspend all the non-immigration visa services between them after an employee from U.S. consulate in Turkey was arrested last week for his connections with Fethullah Gulen.

The row began after Turkish security services detained a US consular service worker for alleged links to Fethullah Gulen, a cleric living in the USA blamed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for inciting a June 2016 coup attempt against him.

The US responded on Sunday, announcing the suspension of non-immigrant visa services in Turkey, citing concerns about the security of the staff at its missions.

In a written statement, Ambassador John Bass said the length of the suspension would also depend on "the Turkish government's commitment to protecting our facilities and personnel here in Turkey", noting it was not a visa ban on Turkish citizens.

"In order to prevent this situation from hurting ordinary citizens even more, this issue should be resolved as soon as possible through a high-level Turkish-US dialogue", former Turkish Ambassador to Washington Faruk Logoglu said, adding that problems in bilateral relations have been observed for some time and the visa crisis is just one more irritant.

Turkey also suspended the issuance of visas to USA citizens.

He has been formally charged with espionage and seeking to overthrow the Turkish government, accusations the U.S. Embassy rejected as "wholly without merit".

Commenting on the motivation behind the arrests of the U.S. consulate employees in Turkey, the security analyst alleged that Ankara could have been seeking to take political hostages in order to liberate Reza Zarrab.

"If it's an issue regarding the arrest of the consulate employee, then this is a decision the Turkish judiciary has made", Mr Gul told reporters. The employee's wife and child have already been detained, according to Turkey's state news agency. The Hurriyet daily reported the individual wanted by prosecutors is now taking sanctuary inside the Istanbul US consulate.

On Monday, Turkish prosecutors summoned another local employee working at the American Consulate in Istanbul, Anadolu said.

Turkey has also pressed, so far in vain, for the United States to extradite Mr Gulen, viewed in Ankara as the mastermind behind the failed coup in which more than 240 people were killed. Meanwhile, members of Erdogan's security detail were indicted by United States authorities after clashes with protesters during an official visit this year, infuriating the Turkish president.

Earlier, a member of American mission Andrew Brunson was arrested in Turkey for his alleged involvement in the failed coup of 2016.

"We have not agreed and are not agreeing to this ambassador making farewell visits with ministers, the parliament speaker and myself", Erdogan said of U.S. ambassador John Bass, who is shortly to leave Turkey after being nominated the United States envoy to Afghanistan.

Erdogan suggested last month that Turkey could release him in exchange for Gulen but Washington showed little interest in the proposal.

Tensions between Washington and Ankara spiraled downhill as Turkey and the United States both blocked tourist and business travel between the two NATO-allied countries.



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