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USA resumes 'limited' visa services to Turkish citizens

07 November 2017

Turkey will resume processing visa applications at its diplomatic missions in the United States on a 'limited basis, ' Turkey's Embassy in Washington announced on its Twitter account late Monday, shortly after a US similar decision earlier in the day.

However, reportedly there are restrictions on issuance of visas to Turkish citizens.

Both the US and Turkey had suspended all non-immigrant visa services for travel between the two countries last month following the arrest of a US Consulate employee in Istanbul, who the Turkish government said was linked to an exiled cleric living in Pennsylvania the Turkish government believes was behind a failed coup attempt a year ago.

In response, Turkey suspended its own non-immigrant visas for USA nationals last month.

Metin Topuz was formally charged with espionage and seeking to overthrow the Turkish government last month, accusations the United States embassy in Ankara said at the time were "wholly without merit".

On Monday, the USA mission said the decision to resume issuing the visas cames after it "received initial high-level assurances" from the Turkish government that its local staff are not under investigation. The Turkish government also gave assurances that local staff members would not be detained or arrested "for performing their official duties" and that Washington would be given information in advance if Turkish officials intend to arrest local staff in the future.

In March, a Turkish employee at the United States consulate in the southern city of Adana was arrested on charges of supporting the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which both Ankara and Washington consider a terror group. He was the second local staff member at a US mission in Turkey to be held.

It said the US mission workers detained or arrested in Turkey were not held for their work, but because they were accused of "serious crimes".

Turkey has pressed Washington for the extradition of the Pennsylvania-based Gulen, who denies any link to the coup bid.

Washington condemned the move as baseless and damaging to bilateral relations.

US President Donald Trump shakes hands with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a meeting at the Palace Hotel during the United Nations General Assembly, September 21, 2017, in NY.

Turkey has also been enraged by Washington's support for the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia in the fight against Islamic State.

USA resumes 'limited' visa services to Turkish citizens