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Turkey justice ministry cancels US visit over 'visa row'

Turkey and the US have hit a new low in relations [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 24 October, 2017

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Turkish legal officials will boycott a planned study visit to the US over conflicting reports on visa applications, as tensions between the two countries heighten.

Turkish justice ministry officials have cancelled a planned visit to the US, where they were due to study the country's legal system and prisons.

It follows local media reports that the legal team had their visa applications rejected by Washington as tensions between the US and Turkey hit a new recent low.

The Turkish officials denied the story and said they were the ones to cancel the trip.

"Due to the recent visa crisis between the two countries, the visit was cancelled by our [Turkish justice] ministry," Reuters reported the group saying in a statement.

They team were invited by the US to study the country's legal system between 29 October and 4 November, but the trip came amid a growing stand-off between the two countries.

Washington has ended visa applications from Turkey, after three of its Turkish mission staff were arrested as part of Ankara's extensive crackdown on suspected anti-government sympathisers.

Two of the staff remain behind bars, as the Turkish government began the dragnet arrest of suspects allegedly linked to last year's coup attempt.

The diplomatic crisis has left investors in Turkey in something of a quandary, with the country's lira feeling the effects of the stand-off.
Turkey accused US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen of being behind the 2016 coup attempt, although Washington has refused to extradite the religious leader unless Ankara provides concrete evidence.

The 2016 putsch attempt took place on the night of 15 July, when renegade soldiers rose up in several Turkish cities and attempted to overthrow the government.

The bulk of the armed forces stayed loyal to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and quashed the revolt, but scores of civilians and troops were killed in one of the bloodiest coup attempts in Turkey's history.

Tensions between the US and Turkey have not been helped by Washington's backing of Kurdish militias in northern Syria who Ankara accuses of being linked to Turkish-Kurdish separatists.

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