Erdoğan calls US decision to halt visa services ‘saddening’

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KIEV, UKRAINE - OCTOBER 09: President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a joint press conference held with President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko (not seen) at the Presidency Office in Kiev, Ukraine on October 09, 2017. AFP

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Monday commented on a visa crisis with the US that erupted following the arrest of a US Consulate General staff member on Oct. 4, saying the decision is “saddening.”

Speaking during a press conference with his Ukrainian counterpart, Petro Poroshenko, in Kyiv on Monday, Erdoğan said: “Above all, this decision is saddening. The fact that the ambassador in Ankara took such a decision and implemented it is saddening.”

However, Erdoğan backed the decision to arrest Metin Topuz, a member of the US Consulate General in İstanbul staff, on Oct. 4 on espionage charges and alleged links to some leading members of the faith-based Gülen movement. He said, “Turkey is not a tribal state.”

The US Embassy in Ankara on Sunday announced that it had suspended all non-immigrant visa services at its diplomatic missions in Turkey.

Hours after the release of the statement, the Turkish Embassy in Washington announced that it had suspended all non-immigrant visa services at all Turkish diplomatic missions in the US.

The Turkish Embassy in Washington retaliated by copying and reversing the US statement.

Local media on Monday revealed that Turkish authorities issued a detention warrant for another US Consulate staff member over alleged Gülen movement links on Sunday morning. Police were unable to detain him because he has remained in the consulate building.

Speaking to a group of journalists in İstanbul on Friday, John Bass, the departing US ambassador to Turkey, said some in the Turkish government are motivated by “vengeance rather than justice,” voicing concern at coverage in pro-government media outlets of the arrest of Topuz.

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