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Published: Wed, October 11, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

U.S. suspends visa applications from Turkey

U.S. suspends visa applications from Turkey

Tension between the United States and Turkey increased again on Sunday as the two countries suspended visa services at their respective diplomatic facilities in either country.

But ties deteriorated further after the USA embassy in Ankara said Sunday it would suspend issuing visas for tourism, medical treatment, business, temporary work or study, after a United States consulate staffer was arrested.

The tit-for-tat moves by Turkey and the US come following the arrest of a USA consulate employee in Istanbul last week. And the USA has backed a Kurdish separatist group in Syria that Turkey considers a terrorist threat.

The United States said on Sunday that it was suspending nonimmigrant visa services at its diplomatic facilities in Turkey after the arrest of a consulate employee, prompting Turkey to halt visa services in America.

The embassy said "recent events" had forced the U.S. government to reassess Turkey's "commitment" to the security of USA mission services and personnel in the country. The reason for the arrest warrant has not yet been revealed. Non-immigrant visas are issued to the people who travel for tourism, medical treatment, business, temporary work or study.

Last Wednesday, employee Metin Topuz was arrested for alleged ties to exiled cleric Fethullah Gülen - a man classified by Turkey as a terrorist and accused of orchestrating last year's attempted military coup.

"U.S. consulate worker N.M.C., husband and father of the suspects in question, has no diplomatic immunity and has been called to the prosecutor's office to testify", a statement from the Istanbul prosecutor's said, quoted by Anadolu.

Turkish state-run Anadolu Agency reported Topuz had connections with former police chiefs and a fugitive prosecutor Zekeriya Oz, who is believed to be a member of the Gulen movement.

Turkish officials have asked the United States to end its visa suspension the same day a summons was issued for another USA consulate staff member.

A first version of the Turkish statement that was posted on the embassy's Twitter account on Sunday afternoon had said the measure would apply "to visas in passports".

The coup was quickly put down by forces loyal to the government.

The relations between Turkey and its traditional ally the United States have gone from uneasy to challenging after the coup attempt a year ago. The move came as Turkey, a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member, joined Russian Federation and Iran in military involvement in Iraq's Idlib province.

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