US, Turkey to resume visa services

29 December, 2017, 01:10 | Author: Chad Mckenzie
  • A Turkish army soldier stands guard at the trial of the the alleged New Year's Eve shooter Dec 11 2017

The United States and Turkey lifted all visa restrictions on Thursday after Washington said Ankara had kept to assurances that no other U.S. mission staff would be targeted for performing official duties.

"In response to assurances from the Turkish side, the US State Department came to the conclusion that the security situation in Turkey is quite good for the resumption of visa services, the embassy officials said".

The United States had earlier stopped issuing all non-immigrant visas to Turkish nationals after the arrest of one of its consulate employees.

The diplomatic conflict increased tensions between the United States and Turkey, NATO allies that have seen their ties deteriorate since a coup attempt a year ago that the Turkish government blames on a Muslim cleric who lives in the U.S.

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US officials said Thursday "serious concerns" remain about existing allegations against employees that were previously in Turkey.

That followed the arrest of Metin Topuz - a USA consulate employee who was arrested for alleged ties to the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO).

In November, Washington said it was resuming limited services upon getting assurances on the safety of its local staff. "US officials will continue to engage with their Turkish counterparts to seek a satisfactory resolution to these cases", the statement added.

Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu spoke with his USA counterpart Rex Tillerson on the phone about Washington's decision to lift restrictions on visa services, a diplomatic source said late Thursday.

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The embassy said Turkish authorities gave assurances that they will detain no local staff employed by United States missions for performing their official duties.

The US decision to stop handing out visas was implemented from October and was followed by the tit-for-tat move by Turkey to stop giving Turkish visas to Americans.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accuses Mr Gulen of instigating the unrest - a charge the cleric denies.

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