US, Turkey mutually suspend visa services

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Washington, Oct 9 (IANS) The US and Turkey have mutually suspended all non-immigrant visa services for travel between the two countries, after last week’s arrest of an American consulate employee in Istanbul, the media reported.

With some exceptions, the move implemented from Sunday effectively blocks Turks from travel to the US, and vice versa, indefinitely, reports CNN.

The US said it was “deeply disturbed” by the employee’s arrest, after he was charged over alleged links to Pennsylvania-based opposition cleric Fethullah Gulen who Turkey blames for the unsuccessful 2016 coup.

Turkey has pushed for the US to extradite Gulen, although the cleric has denied any involvement.

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

Just after the announcement by the US, Turkey on Sunday retaliated through its embassy in Washington, issuing a statement that effectively mirrored the one released by Washington, CNN reported.

“Recent events have forced Turkish Government to reassess the commitment of the Government of the United States to the security of Turkish Mission facilities and personnel.”

The Turkish embassy said the measure, effective immediately, would “apply to visas in passports as well as e-Visas and visas acquired at the border”.

Washington’s move, meanwhile, means that Turks will not be issued visas to visit the US unless they plan to move there.

According to Turkey’s state-run Anadolu News Agency, the arrested consulate employee was a male Turkish citizen.

–IANS

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