TURKEY Vs US: Tit-for-tat response justified, Erdogan says

10_09_Turkey_Consulate

TURKEY Vs US: Tit-for-tat response justified, Erdogan says

Commenting on the motivation behind the arrests of the United States consulate employees in Turkey, the security analyst alleged that Ankara could have been seeking to take political hostages in order to liberate Reza Zarrab.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has described a United States decision to suspend most visa services as "upsetting".

"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 USA diplomatic facilities in Turkey".

"For the Ankara [US] embassy to take a decision like this, to put into practice is saddening", Mr Erdogan said at a news conference in the Ukrainian capital Kiev. "We hope it will not last long, but at this time, we can't predict how long it will take to resolve this matter", he said.

Turkish police believe that immediately prior to the failed coup of July 15, 2016, the wife of the consulate worker deposited a large sum of money into a bank allegedly linked to Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish Islamic cleric exiled in the US.

Several Turkish news networks announced earlier on Monday that a warrant had been issued for a second USA consulate worker.

Bass criticised the employee's lack of "sufficient access" to his lawyer.

On Monday, Turkish prosecutors summoned another local employee working at the American consulate in Istanbul, the Anadolu news agency said.

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The dispute erupted last week when Turkey arrested a Turkish employee of the American consulate on suspicion of links to the group blamed for last year's failed coup.

The visa step taken by the United States is a mistake and I think that Turkey will not make a mistake in response to such actions of the United States, thereby further exacerbating the situation...

But Erdogan's spokesman Ibrahim Kalin has defended the arrest, saying "there must be serious evidence" and pointing to a phone call made from the Istanbul consulate to a key suspect on the night of the coup.

"It's definitely a historic low in ties, at least in recent memory", said Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute, adding that the last such dispute of this magnitude was after the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus.

Turkey stands by the reciprocal treatment and the right to arrest a Turkish citizen employed by the USA consulate.

Outgoing U.S. Ambassador John Bass announced the visa suspension and issued a video Monday discussing his decision, but there has yet to be any official comment from Washington.

Turkey-U.S. relations have grown increasingly fraught over the battle to defeat ISIS and Washington's support for Syrian Kurds leading the fight against the radical Islamist group in eastern Syria, where a Kurdish-Arab coalition is close to wresting the city of Raqqa from the jihadist cult.

Meanwhile, members of Erdogan's security detail were indicted by US authorities after clashes with protesters during an official visit this year, infuriating Erdogan.

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