TURKEY Vs US: Tit-for-tat response justified, Erdogan says

Fake US Dollar and Turkish Lira currency often used as a novelty gift is seen for sale at a tobacco shop in a market

Fake US Dollar and Turkish Lira currency often used as a novelty gift is seen for sale at a tobacco shop in a market

The spat between the two countries was ignited by the recent arrest of Metin Topuz, a US consulate employee in Istanbul, over suspected links to USA -based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is accused by Ankara of being behind a failed coup attempt in July 2016.

The U.S. ambassador to Turkey said on Monday the duration of a suspension in visa services in Turkey would depend on talks between the two governments regarding the detention of Turkish staff at the U.S. embassy.

Ankara hit back at the US suspension of the issuing of non-immigrant visas - a move described by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as "very, very saddening" - with a tit-for-tat response against American citizens.

An ongoing diplomatic row between the US and Turkey has not affected American operations or personnel in Turkey, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

Although Bass is in Turkey for only a few more days, it is unprecedented in the history of Turkish-US relations for Ankara to say it no longer recognises Washington's ambassador.

The dispute erupted last week when Turkey arrested a Turkish employee of the American consulate on suspicion of links to the group blamed for last year's failed coup. "The issue must of course be resolved as soon as possible", he said, describing US behaviour as "unbecoming" of an ally. "We make the decisions about our own independence ourselves - we are obliged to take safety and security measures in order to defend our country", Erdogan defiantly said of his decision to purchase the system in September. The embassy on Thursday said it was "deeply disturbed" over the arrest and rejected the allegations as "wholly without merit".

There are a variety of tensions surrounding the U.S. -Turkey relationship, stemming from developments as diverse as America's decision to arm Syrian Kurds to the beating of protesters in Washington by Erdogan's bodyguards during a presidential visit to meet with Trump.

But Erdogan's spokesman Ibrahim Kalin has defended the arrest, saying "there must be serious evidence" and pointing to a phone call made from the Istanbul consulate to a key suspect on the night of the coup.

On Monday, Turkish prosecutors summoned another local employee working at the American consulate in Istanbul, the Anadolu news agency said.

In a speech in Ankara to ruling AK Party parliamentarians, Yildirim also defended Turkey's decision to retaliate with its own visa suspension after the USA embassy announcement.

"They need to ask him, How can you break relations between the United States and Turkey, who gave you this authority?" he said.

Ankara is also angry over the arrest in the United States of Mehmet Hakan Atilla, deputy chief executive at state lender Halkbank, and the Iranian-Turkish businessman Reza Zarrab.

But that is not all: Ankara has yet to persuade Washington to extradite Gulen although 16 months have already passed since the attempted coup, he highlighted. "Does this fit our alliance or friendship?"

Skinner said neither side had an interest in a "complete rupture" in ties but the crisis could "add further momentum to Turkey's pivot away from the West".

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