U.S.-Turkey tensions rise amid diplomatic dispute

by WorldTribune Staff, October 10, 2017

The United States and Turkey have both blocked tourist and business travel between the two nations amid a diplomatic dispute.

The latest dispute between the NATO-allied countries began last week when Turkey arrested an employee at the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul who authorities accused of having ties to U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.

U.S. Consulate in Istanbul

Turkish state-run media identified the employee as Metin Topuz.

“Turkey stands by the reciprocal treatment and the right to arrest a Turkish citizen employed by the U.S. consulate,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said. “Turkey is a state of law, not a tribal state.”

Erdogan blames Gulen for the 2016 failed coup in Turkey. The Turkish government has called on the U.S. to extradite Gulen.

The U.S. says the allegations are “without merit.”

Turkish authorities are also seeking a second U.S. consulate worker for questioning as a suspect, the BBC reported. The employee’s wife and child have already been detained, according to Turkey’s state news agency.

The U.S. embassy in Ankara on Oct. 8 suspended visas services for Turkish citizens as it “reassess” Turkey’s commitment to security of its staff. Turkish citizens will essentially be barred from traveling to the U.S. unless for permanent migration.

“Recent events have forced the United States government to reassess the commitment of the government of Turkey to the security of U.S. mission and personnel,” a statement from the U.S. mission in Ankara said.

The Turkish government responded by suspending all non-immigrant visas to Americans and issued a nearly identical statement.

“Recent events have forced the Turkish Government to reassess the commitment of the Government of the U.S. to the security of the Turkish Mission facilities and personnel,” the Turkish embassy in Washington said in a statement.

The U.S. State Department on Sept. 28 issued a travel warning to Turkey over the threats of terrorism and advised U.S. citizens to avoid travel to southeast Turkey and particularly to areas near the Turkey-Syria border.

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