Turkey’s presidential spokesperson: Visa crisis with US to be resolved soon

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Turkish Presidential spokesman İbrahim Kalın AFP Photo

İbrahim Kalın, spokesperson for the Turkish Presidency, said on Wednesday that talks between the US and Turkey over an ongoing diplomatic crisis are moving in a good direction and that the row is expected to be resolved soon.

Speaking during a televised interview with the state-run TRT Haber TV on Wednesday, Kalın said he expected the problem would be resolved soon as Turkish and US officials, who arrived in Ankara on Monday, have agreed on better coordination to end the crisis between the two NATO allies over a mutual suspension of visa issuance following the arrest of a US Consulate staff member early in October.

US officials in Ankara will convey Turkey’s messages to Washington. What we have agreed is that there should be better coordination between the interior, foreign and justice ministries, the exchange of information, visits to the arrested persons and their contacts with lawmakers,” Kalın stated.

The US delegation, led by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Jonathan Cohen, had talks with the Turkish side, led by Deputy Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs Ahmet Muhtar Gün.

On Oct. 8, the US and Turkey halted non-immigrant visa services in their respective missions after Metin Topuz, a staff member at the US Consulate General in İstanbul, was arrested on Oct. 4 on espionage charges and alleged links to some leading members of the faith-based Gülen movement.

Speaking to a group of journalists in İstanbul on Oct. 6, outgoing US Ambassador in Turkey John Bass said some in the Turkish government were motivated by “vengeance rather than justice,” voicing concern at coverage in pro-government media outlets of the arrest of Topuz.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had waited for three days before calling his Turkish counterpart, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, in response to a message sent last Sunday by Çavuşoğlu regarding the visa crisis.

US. Ambassador Bass said in a video message released late on Oct. 9 that Turkish authorities had failed to show any evidence against Topuz and that he had insufficient access to a lawyer. He also said the arrest “raised questions whether the goal of some officials is to disrupt the long-standing cooperation between Turkey and the US.”

Ties between the two NATO allies were already strained over Pennsylvania-based Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen’s presence in the US and Washington’s support for a Syrian Kurdish militia that Turkey considers to be terrorist because of its links to outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants fighting Turkey.

Also, indictments in the US naming bodyguards of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who were engaged in violence in Washington and for the manager of the state-run Halkbank and a former Turkish economy minister accused of conspiring to violate US sanctions on Iran had deepened the rift.

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