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Turkey, US discuss visa crisis in phone talks

Analysts say the US-Turkey dispute is the worst in half a century. [Getty]

Date of publication: 11 October, 2017

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Turkey's top diplomat and his US counterpart on Wednesday discussed the reciprocal suspension of visa services in their first talks since one of the worst diplomatic crises in years.
Turkey's top diplomat and his US counterpart on Wednesday discussed the reciprocal suspension of visa services in their first talks since the eruption of one of the worst diplomatic crises between Ankara and Washington in years.

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.

He has been formally charged with espionage and seeking to overthrow the Turkish government, accusations the US embassy rejected as "wholly without merit".

In response, the United States stopped issuing non-immigrant visas from its missions in Turkey, prompting Turkish missions in the United States to hit back with a tit-for-tat step of their own.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu spoke with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson by telephone on Wednesday and they "discussed the mutual suspensions of visa services,"
state-run Anadolu news agency reported, without giving further details. 

On Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country would no longer recognise the US ambassador John Bass as Washington's representative in the country and would boycott meetings with the envoy to Ankara.

But after two days of acrimonious broadsides from Ankara, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim had earlier on Wednesday struck a more conciliatory tone.

"We hope that relations between two allies will return to normal in a short time," he said in the Turkish capital.

"At a time when global and regional tensions are escalating, we are not going to leave common sense behind," he added.

Turkish officials had expressed hope of a new page in Ankara-Washington relations under President Donald Trump after repeated bickering in the last months of Barack Obama's term.

So far, Erdogan has been careful not to take aim at Trump during the dispute, putting the blame squarely on Bass.

Analysts have described the dispute as the worst between the NATO allies in half a century.

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