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Ankara asks US to halt unnecessary escalation of tension

The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that US administration’s decision to suspend processing of all non-immigrant visa applications at its missions was very, very “saddening”. However he has justified his retaliatory measure to suspend similar visas at Turkish missions in the US.

Erdogan, while addressing joint press conference with his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Prososhenka in Kiev on Monday said, “For the (US) ambassador in Ankara to take a decision like this, to put it into practice, is saddening.”

He justified his decision to retaliate with similar orders that resulted in the Turkish embassy in Washington issuing an almost identical text to the US announcement. He said, “Turkey is governed by the rule of law. Above all, we are not a tribe, we are not a tribal state.”

On Sunday, US Embassy in Ankara had announced the decision of suspending non-immigrant visa processing at its missions in the country. It was followed by similar announcement by Turkish embassy in Washington.

According to Turkish foreign ministry official, the Ankara based US embassy’s second in-charge, Philip Kosnett, was called to the ministry on Monday, where officials conveyed “their expectations” for the US to halt “the unnecessary escalation” of tension and reverse the decision that “victimize” both Turkish and US citizens.

Meanwhile, Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul has said “It is Turkey’s right to try a Turkish citizen for acts carried out in Turkey. Everyone should follow (legal procedures) with respect.” The Turkish officials say that both Metin Topuz and second unnamed employee have no diplomatic immunity or title.

Turkish foreign ministry top official had also discussed the issue with US Ambassador John Bass late on Sunday. Bass had earlier posted his statement on the internet describing the reasons for decision to suspend the non-immigrant visa processing at their missions in the country.

However, the US ambassador clarified, “If you have a valid visa, you can still travel to the United States. If you want to apply for a visa at another U.S. embassy or consulate outside of Turkey, you are free to do so.”

The diplomatic row between the two countries was triggered on October 4 when Turkish authorities arrested Metin Topuz  working at US Consulate General in Istanbul.

Ankara had alleged that the Turkish national working for the US mission was involved in espionage activities linking with the supporters of US based opposition figure Fetullah Gulen. Pennsylvania based Turkish leader was allegedly mastermind of the failed coup against Erdogan regime in 2016.

According to Aljazeera, the US move is believed to be motivated both by Washington’s concern over Ankara’s Syria policy and recent arrest of its employee, who allegedly had information on American involvement in the failed 2016 coup attempt in the country.

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