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Reacts to US suspension of issuing visas to Turkish citizens

In a retaliatory diplomatic move, Turkey has suspending non-immigrant visa services to the US nationals at all Turkish missions in that country. Ankara’s move came immediately after Washington’s decision of suspending similar visa services for Turkish citizens.

The statement issued by US embassy in Ankara on October 8 said, “Recent events have forced the United States government to reassess the commitment of government of Turkey to the security of US mission and personnel. In order to minimize the number of visitors to our Embassy and Consulates while this assessment proceeds, effective immediately, we have suspended all non-immigrant visa services at all US diplomatic facilities in Turkey.”

Interestingly, the Turkish embassy in Washington retaliated with a statement using similar terminology; simply by reversing the countries’ names.

It said, “Recent events have forced Turkish Government to reassess the commitment of the Government of the United States to the security of Turkish Mission facilities and personnel. In order to minimize the number of visitors to our Embassy and Consulates while this assessment proceeds, effective immediately, we have suspended all non-immigrant visa services at all Turkish diplomatic facilities in US.”

The Turkish embassy said that measures would “apply to visas in passports as well as e-visas and visas acquired at the border.” However, under the new rules, Turkish citizens will not be issued visas to visit US unless they plan to move there. This means, Washington will continue receiving Turkish citizens who wish to live on its soil permanently.

The ties between the two countries were marred after Turkish authorities arrested Metin Topuz, a local employee of US consulate in Istanbul on October 4. He was allegedly maintaining links with elements related to Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) led by US based Getullah Gulen. Ankara alleges that Gulen was the mastermind of the failed coup attempt in 2016.

Anadolu Agency, the Turkish official news outlet, while quoting an undisclosed source, reported, “Topuz has been linked to a number of FETO suspects, including police commissioners and former prosecutor Zekeriya Oz, a fugitive accused of attempting to overthrow the government through the use of force.”

The US Embassy in Ankara immediately  denied allegations and issued a statement saying, “The US government is deeply disturbed by the arrest of a locally employed staff member of the US consulate General Istanbul on October 4 and by leaks from Turkish government sources seemingly aimed at trying the employee in the media rather than a court of law.”  It further said, “We believe these allegations to be wholly without merit.”

Interestingly, on October 4, Turkish President RecepTayyip Erdogan met Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran “reaffirming the political will to strengthen bilateral and multilateral cooperation between Tehran and Ankara, relying on brotherly, amicable bonds of the two nations.”

Erdogan, who travelled to Tehran in the aftermath of recently held independence referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan, was told by Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei, “The US and foreign powers are unreliable and seek to create a new Israel in the region.”

The recent referendum by Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), in the semi-autonomous region in northern Iraq was opposed by Iraq’s central government, Iran, Turkey, Syria and US while it was supported by Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu. In his tweet the Israeli PM said, “While Israel rejects terror in any form, it supports the legitimate efforts of the Kurdish people to attain a state of its own.”

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