Turkish, US FMs discuss visa row over phone


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday that the United States is "sacrificing ties" by supporting its ambassador to Turkey in a diplomatic spat that resulted in the two countries suspending the issuing of travel visas to the other's citizens. Topuz was detained on charges of espionage and alleged ties to USA -based cleric Fethullah Gulen, who the Turkish government blames for a July 2016 coup attempt.

Wednesday's telephone call between Tillerson and Turkey's top diplomat Mevlut Cavusoglu came after the USA ambassador to Turkey said Tillerson held talks to try and resolve a major diplomatic break between the two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies.

Turkey felt many allies were slow to condemn the coup attempt and failed to appreciate the danger it faced.

He was referring to U.S. Ambassador to Turkey John Bass, who suspended the U.S. visa services in Turkey to protest the arrest of one Turkish employee at the U.S. consulate in Istanbul.

A diplomatic crisis between the United States and Turkey that led them to stop issuing visas to each other's citizens is "overblown" and will likely be resolved soon, Turkish deputy prime minister Mehmet Simsek said on Wednesday.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and his USA counterpart Rex Tillerson discussed the issue over the phone on Wednesday, marking the first contact between Ankara and Washington since the two sides suspended visa services on Sunday.

"Let me be very clear, the person who caused this is the ambassador here". He said that he couldn't comment on the charges or evidence against the two because Turkey hasn't provided the US with that information.

Ankara accuses Gulen of masterminding the July 15 coup attempt that killed more than 300 people. Erdogan alleges the third staff member is hiding inside the Istanbul consulate, a claim Bass has denied.

He said Washington was defending a "FETO-linked person hiding in your consulate", and said a Christian pastor arrested in western Turkey a year ago was also "clearly linked" to Gulen. "If the ambassador acted on his own, then the USA administration should not keep him there for a minute".

He said Turkey would abandon its plans to supply US -made weapons to its police force. Both men were arrested on charges of sanctions violations. "So, in absence of that, we're left to conclude that they're being held as a result of their work over many years on behalf of the USA government, which involved a lot of interaction with Turkish law enforcement officials and other officials of Turkish government". 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.

"What a shame if the great United States of America is being governed by an ambassador in Ankara". "Someone should have said: "You cannot treat your strategic partner this way, you can't behave like this".