Tillerson Expresses 'Profound Concern' About Turkey's Detention Of US Employees

Turkish and US flags

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu discussed the visa crisis between Turkey and the USA with his US counterpart Rex Tillerson on the phone.

Representative of the United States and Turkey are scheduled to meet "in the coming days" in an attempt to solve a crisis that followed the arrest of a local employee at the U.S. consulate in Istanbul and the subsequent reciprocal suspension of short-term visas, Turkish Deputy Premier Bekir Bozdag announced on Thursday. Turkish officials say Turkey is asking the United States to reverse its decision to suspend non-immigrant visa services at its diplomatic facilities, saying both countries' citizens suffer from the move.

Hours later, Ankara issued a similar suspension on visas for USA citizens.

Turkey and the US have agreed to work to resolve the diplomatic row between the countries, Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said Thursday.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the dispute has not affected the U.S. military's relationship with Turkey's armed forces.

The U.S. Embassy on Sunday announced the suspension of some 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. Erdogan had been encouraging the impression that Bass acted without approval from Washington, a view that gained traction after several days of silence from the State Department and White House.

He added that the arrest of an employee of the US Consulate General was carried out within the law.

Bozdag also added that the consulate employee had not demanded lawyer access and that the United States mission was free to apply to send a lawyer to see him.

"Relations between Turkey and the USA are stable", he said.

Speaking to reporters in Ankara on Wednesday, US Ambassador John Bass said the US sought an official explanation from Ankara concerning the arrests.

Turkey's ties with the US have frayed since the failed coup against Erdogan in July 2016. It lasted more than 30 minutes, Turkish media said. "He appears to be being held simply because he's an American citizen who as a man of faith was in contact with a range of people in this country who he was trying to help in keeping with his faith".

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