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Turkey, US discuss visa crisis in phone talks: state media

AFP  |  Ankara 

Turkey's top diplomat and his American counterpart today discussed the reciprocal suspension of visa services, in their first talks since the eruption of one of the worst crises between and Ankara in years. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu spoke by telephone with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and they "discussed the mutual suspensions of visa services", state-run Anadolu agency reported, without giving further details. The dispute blew up 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. In response, the United States stopped issuing non- immigrant visas from its missions in Turkey, prompting Turkish missions in the US to hit back with a tit-for-tat measure of their own. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday stepped up one of the worst rows in decades between the two allies by saying Turkey no longer regarded ambassador John Bass as the US representative in the country. But after two days of acrimonious broadsides from Ankara, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim had earlier today 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-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. But the State Department said that Bass had been operating with the full authority of the US government.

Bass is at the end of his posting and is due to leave Turkey at the weekend. Some Turkish officials have long alleged a US hand in the coup attempt on July 15 last year, which Ankara blames on the US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen. has dismissed claims it was involved as a ludicrous conspiracy theory and Gulen himself denies any link to the plot. Ties have also frayed in recent months over the refusal of the US to extradite Gulen, and its support for Kurdish militias in Syria. Meanwhile, American pastor Andrew Brunson, who ran a church in the western city of Izmir, has been held in Turkey since October 2016 on charges of being a member of Gulen's group. Erdogan suggested last month Turkey could release him in exchange for Gulen but showed little interest in the proposal.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, October 11 2017. 22:42 IST