The U.S. Embassy in Turkey has taken the decision to suspend visa services in coordination with the White House and State Department, a spokesperson for the department said Tuesday.
"Our ambassadors tend to not do things unilaterally," Heather Nauert told reporters.
"This was coordinated with the State Department. It was coordinated with the White House and coordinated with the NSC (National Security Council).”
On Sunday, The U.S. announced the suspension of all non-immigrant visa services at U.S. missions in Turkey. The Turkish Embassy in Washington took a similar decision in retaliation.
Nauert said the U.S. was "very disappointed" by the Turkish government's arrest of two of their local staff, including Metin Topuz. Topuz, who worked at the U.S.’s Istanbul Consulate as a local employee, was remanded in custody over terror charges by an Istanbul court on Wednesday.
Topuz is linked to the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), the group behind last year’s defeated coup in Turkey, a Turkish judicial source said Wednesday.
"The State Department relies significantly on locally employed staff all around the world. We would not be able to do our jobs at the State Department without all these folks who are citizens of other countries who assist the State Department in their activities," Nauert said.
"Turkey had arrested this year two of our locally employed staff in different locations and then had called in a third staff member just over the weekend," she said.
According to Nauert, Turkish authorities summoned the third employee, but the person of interest has not been formally arrested yet.
FETÖ and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gülen orchestrated the attempted coup, which left 250 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.
In response to a question about Washington’s expectations from Ankara amid the showdown, Nauert said: "I think a good start would be to allow them access to their attorneys," referring to the two detained U.S. consular employees.
She claimed the U.S. has not seen any evidence that supports what the Turkish government accuses them of.
Nauert also said the diplomatic crisis with Turkey was discussed in a meeting that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis had with U.S. President Donald Trump.
Erdoğan blames US for initiating visa row with Turkey
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday laid the blame for the current visa row with the U.S. at Washington’s door.The U.S. embassy on Sunday announced the suspension of non-immigration visas for Turkish nationals following the arrest of a Turkish employee at the U.S. consulate in Istanbul, prompting a tit-for-tat response from Ankara.“The offender in this problem is the United States of America itself,” Erdoğan said during a news conference in Belgrade.“I personally find it odd that U.S. high-level officials did not conduct any means of communication with our foreign minister. It is concerning for an Ankara ambassador take such decision then claim he has taken it ‘in the name of my country’.”Ambassador John Bass made the announcement about the visa suspension and issued a video on Monday night discussing his decision but there has yet to be any official comment from Washington.Erdoğan warned the Turkish-U.S. relations could be further damaged if U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration played a role in the visa decision.If the decision had been made after discussion with senior officials, “then we have nothing to discuss with the administration.“But if that ambassador has taken decision on his own, then that ambassador must not be allowed to remain here, not even for a minute.”Metin Topuz, a long-standing U.S. consulate employee, was arrested last week over alleged ties to the Fetullah Terrorist Organization, which is said to have orchestrated last year’s attempted coup in Turkey.“No state would allow such spies that could cause a domestic threat,” Erdoğan said.On Wednesday, Bass is due to leave Ankara for a posting in Kabul and Erdoğan announced a boycott of any farewell events by Turkish officials.“Myself, as well as our ministers and the parliamentary speaker have not and will not accept his farewell visit,” he said. “I should say this clearly: We do not see him as the representative of the United States of America in Turkey.”
Erdoğan says 'nothing to discuss' with US if administration initiated visa row
President Tayyip Erdoğan blamed the U.S. ambassador to Turkey on Tuesday for a diplomatic crisis between the two countries and said Ankara no longer considered him Washington's envoy.In a blunt and personal attack on outgoing ambassador John Bass, Erdoğan suggested Bass acted unilaterally in suspending visa services in Turkey after the arrest of a U.S. consulate worker, and said "agents" had infiltrated U.S. missions.The dispute has plunged already fragile relations between the two NATO allies to a new low after months of tension linked to the conflict in Syria, last year's failed military coup in Turkey, and U.S. court cases against Turkish officials.The U.S. embassy said on Sunday night it was suspending visa services while it assessed Turkey's commitment to the safety of its missions and its staff, a message reiterated in a video released by Bass late on Monday.Video: President Erdoğan Meets with President Vucic of Serbia"An ambassador in Ankara taking decisions and saying he is doing so in the name of his government is strange," Erdoğan said. "If our ambassador did this, we wouldn't keep him there even a minute."The embassy said allegations that the arrested employee had links to Fethullah Gulen, a U.S.-based Muslim cleric blamed by Ankara for orchestrating the failed coup against Erdoğan last year, were baseless.But Erdoğan said the arrest, and a police request to question a second consulate employee, showed "there is something cooking in the U.S. consulate in Istanbul... How did these agents infiltrate the U.S. consulate?"He said Bass, who is due to leave the country within days to take up a posting in Afghanistan, had been making farewell visits to government offices."But our ministers, parliament speaker and myself did not accept and will not accept his request because we do not see him as a representative of the United States," Erdoğan told a televised news conference during a visit to Belgrade.Turkey's main opposition party denounces US visa move"NOT TRIBES"Turkey's currency and stock market were both hit on Monday by the dispute. On Tuesday, the main BIST 100 stock index rebounded, rising 1.94 percent by 1320 GMT, and the lira was also up 1 percent at 3.6675 to the dollar.Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said the visa suspension had punished citizens of both countries, and accused Washington of taking an emotional and inappropriate step against an ally."You are making your citizens and ours pay the price," he said. "We call on the United States to be more reasonable. The issue must of course be resolved as soon as possible," he said, describing U.S. behaviour as "unbecoming" of an ally.In a speech in Ankara to ruling AK Party parliamentarians, Yıldırım also defended Turkey's decision to retaliate with its own visa suspension after the U.S. embassy announcement.Turkey: MHP leader calls US visa move a 'scandal'"Turkey is not a tribal state, we will retaliate against what has been done in kind," he said.Relations between the countries have been plagued by disputes over U.S. support for Kurdish fighters in Syria and Turkey's so far unsuccessful calls for Gulen's extradition.U.S. courts have also indicted a Turkish banker and a former minister for conspiring to violate U.S. sanctions on Iran, as well as 15 of Erdoğan's security guards for attacking peaceful protesters during his visit to Washington in May."Did you ask permission from us when you dragged a general manager from our national bank into jail?" Yıldırım said. "Why are you harbouring Gulen? Does this fit our alliance or friendship?"PM Yıldırım: Turkey will not seek US permission to detain suspectsYıldırım said if the United States wanted to continue its alliance with Turkey it should stop support for YPG fighters battling Islamic State in Syria. Turkey says the YPG is an extension of the outlawed PKK which has fought a three-decade insurgency in southeast Turkey."Siding with our enemies is not fitting our alliances," he said.John Bass: The figure behind US’s dirty games in Turkey
Turkey's main opposition party denounces US visa move
The leader of Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) has said that his party did not "approve" the U.S. move to suspend non-immigrant visa operations in Turkey.Speaking at his party's parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu called the move "definitly not correct" and added "We never approve it.""Thousands of students, patients, and bussinesmen will go to the U.S.A., [but] they are all being blocked. Those who have been punished are not the government but the 80 millon [Turkish citizens]," he said."We think such severe sanctions [should not exist] between strategic allies," he added.Last week, Turkish national Metin Topuz, confirmed by the U.S. Istanbul Consulate as a local employee, was remanded in custody over terror charges by an Istanbul court. Topuz is suspected to be linked to the Fetullah Terror Organization (FETÖ).On Sunday, the U.S. suspended non-immigrant visa operations at all diplomatic facilities in Turkey, saying it was reassessing Ankara's commitment to the security of U.S. facilities and personnel.Turkey retaliated by suspending non-immigrant visa service in the U.S. citing security concerns.
Turkey: MHP leader calls US visa move a 'scandal'
The leader of the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) said the U.S. was causing a virtual crisis by suspending non-immigrant visa operations at diplomatic facilities in Turkey.In his party's parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday, Devlet Bahçeli said he approved Turkey's retaliation, i.e. to suspend non-immigrant visa service in the U.S. citing security concerns."The U.S. tried to cause a virtual crisis with lame excuses," said Bahceli on the visa suspension.Describing the U.S. move as "a scandal", Bahçeli said that the tension between the two countries should not be projected onto their citizens."The decision, which is an abdication of reason, will just [...] deepen the gap between the two countries," he said.Turkey: Opposition party slams US move to suspend visaLast Wednesday, Turkish national Metin Topuz, confirmed by the U.S.’ Istanbul Consulate as a local employee, was remanded in custody over terror charges by an Istanbul court last Wednesday.US visa suspension decision upsetting: ErdoğanTopuz is suspected to be linked to the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), the group behind last year’s defeated coup attempt in Turkey.On Sunday, the U.S. suspended all non-immigrant visa operations at all U.S. diplomatic facilities in Turkey, saying it was reassessing Turkey's commitment to the security of U.S. facilities and personnel.Turkey retaliated by suspending non-immigrant visa service in the U.S. citing security concerns.FETÖ and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gülen orchestrated the attempted coup, which left 250 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.