World Bulletin / News Desk
The U.S. Embassy in Turkey has taken the decision to suspend visa services in coordination with the White House and State Department, a spokesperson for the department said Tuesday.
"Our ambassadors tend to not do things unilaterally," Heather Nauert told reporters.
"This was coordinated with the State Department. It was coordinated with the White House and coordinated with the NSC (National Security Council).”
On Sunday, The U.S. announced the suspension of all non-immigrant visa services at U.S. missions in Turkey. The Turkish Embassy in Washington took a similar decision in retaliation.
Nauert said the U.S. was "very disappointed" by the Turkish government's arrest of two of their local staff, including Metin Topuz. Topuz, who worked at the U.S.’s Istanbul Consulate as a local employee, was remanded in custody over terror charges by an Istanbul court on Wednesday.
Topuz is linked to the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group behind last year’s defeated coup in Turkey, a Turkish judicial source said Wednesday.
"The State Department relies significantly on locally employed staff all around the world. We would not be able to do our jobs at the State Department without all these folks who are citizens of other countries who assist the State Department in their activities," Nauert said.
"Turkey had arrested this year two of our locally employed staff in different locations and then had called in a third staff member just over the weekend," she said.
According to Nauert, Turkish authorities summoned the third employee, but the person of interest has not been formally arrested yet.
FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the attempted coup, which left 250 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.
In response to a question about Washington’s expectations from Ankara amid the showdown, Nauert said: "I think a good start would be to allow them access to their attorneys," referring to the two detained U.S. consular employees.
She claimed the U.S. has not seen any evidence that supports what the Turkish government accuses them of.
Nauert also said the diplomatic crisis with Turkey was discussed in a meeting that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis had with U.S. President Donald Trump.
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