Turkish missions in the U.S. have begun accepting visa applications again from American citizens but on a limited basis, Turkey’s Washington Embassy announced Monday, in a move mirroring a U.S. decision earlier in the day.
"Turkey will resume processing visa applications of U.S. citizens at its diplomatic and consular missions in the USA on a 'limited basis',” the embassy said in a statement, easing a nearly month-long visa logjam and bilateral row.
The Turkey-U.S. visa row was sparked Oct. 8, when the U.S. Embassy in Ankara announced the suspension of non-immigrant visa services to Turkish nationals. That move followed the arrest of a local employee at the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul, prompting a tit-for-tat response from Ankara.
Earlier in the day, the U.S. Embassy in Turkey announced visa applications were being processed on a limited basis at its diplomatic missions in Turkey.
The U.S. had claimed the decision to resume visa services came after Turkey’s assurance that no additional local employees of the U.S. mission would be investigated, detained or arrested for “performing their official duties”.
In response to the U.S.' claim, however, the Turkish Embassy in Washington said no foreign mission personnel have been subjected to a legal investigation for performing their official duties.
“The personnel in question employed by the U.S. has been the subject of a judicial process not because of his official duties but due to very serious charges against him,” it said in a statement, referring to Metin Topuz.
Topuz, a U.S. consulate employee, was arrested over alleged ties to the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group behind last year’s defeated coup attempt in Turkey.
He has allegedly been linked to 121 FETO suspects, including police chiefs, over a prolonged period, according to the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office.
“Turkey is a state of law, and our government cannot provide any assurances regarding files that are the subject of ongoing legal processes,” the Turkish Embassy’s statement read.
“In the period ahead, it is the duty of the independent judiciary to initiate legal proceedings against those who overstep their consular duties and commit crimes in Turkey.”
The statement added that the U.S.’s concern about the security of the employees that work at the U.S. missions does not reflect the truth and is considered odd because Turkey has taken all the necessary measures for the security of all U.S. employees.
“Turkey also has very serious concerns about the ongoing cases against Turkish citizens in the U.S.,” it added. “Turkish officials will continue to engage with their American counterparts to seek a satisfactory resolution of these cases.
The move comes on the eve of a four-day visit to the U.S. by Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim during which he is set to meet U.S. Vice President Mike Pence at the White House.
By Safvan Allahverdi in Washington
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