Emerging: Diplomatic row between Turkey and U.S. escalates

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Presidents Trump and Erdogan met in New York on 21 September, reaffirming their commitment to the countries' strategic partnership
Presidents Trump and Erdogan met in New York on 21 September, reaffirming their commitment to the countries’ strategic partnership (Photo: U.S. Embassy)

Turkey and the U.S. suspended visa facilities in a diplomatic standoff that began when Turkish security forces arrested a U.S. consulate worker last week.

On October 8, the U.S. embassy in Turkey issued a statement saying that it would immediately suspend non-immigrant visa services. This includes the majority of visa services, such as for student and tourist visas.

A few hours later, the Turkish embassy in Washington, DC issued an almost identical statement, saying that it had suspended all visa services to U.S. citizens.

Neither embassy cited specific reasons for the suspension, but said that they needed to reassess whether the other’s government was committed to keeping their staff safe.

https://twitter.com/USEmbassyTurkey/status/917075367575384064

TurkishEmbassyDC on Twitter

Statement from the Turkish Mission to the U.S., October 8, 2017

On October 4, Turkish security forces arrested a U.S. embassy worker. Local media reported the embassy employee as Metin Topuz, a liaison officer. The reports, citing leaked arrest warrants, say that Topuz is accused of “espionage” and assisting Fethullah Gülen, the exiled cleric, resident in the U.S. who Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan says masterminded a failed coup last year.

The U.S. embassy issued a statement the following day accusing Turkey of “baseless, anonymous allegations” against Topuz.

In a further escalation on September 9, the Istanbul prosecutor’s office said that it had ordered the questioning of another U.S. embassy staff member, and arrested the man’s wife and child, according to the Guardian.

In late September, President Donald J. Trump and President Erdoğan met at the UN conference in New York. In a statement, the U.S. State Department said that the presidents had reaffirmed their commitment to their strategic partnership and to “foster regional stability and defeat terrorism in all its forms.”

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