US, Turkey suspend non-immigrant visa service in sign of dipping ties

WASHINGTON, Oct. 9 (APP) :The United States and Turkey on Sunday cancelled non-immigrant visa service between the two countries in a sign of deteriorating diplomatic ties over several matters, including the Syrian issue and a Turkish cleric who lives in exile in US and wanted by Turkish authorities.
While the two-way ties had been strained for months, the growing chasm erupted in open after the arrest of a US employee Consulate in Istanbul last week.
The tense situation took a sharp turn on Sunday when both the countries abruptly announced they were cancelling most visitor visas between the countries, according to the Washington Post.
According to the report, the US Embassy in Ankara announced to suspend all non-immigrant visa service at all diplomatic facilities across Turkey. Within hours, the Turkish Embassy in Washington released a statement, announcing its own suspension of visas for Americans.
“The tit-for-tat moves illustrated how the critical alliance between Turkey and the United States, anchored in military, intelligence and commercial ties, has been battered in recent months by a series of deep disagreements over the war in Syria and the fate of Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric who lives in exile in Pennsylvania and is wanted by the Turkish authorities,” the report said
Ties between Turkey and US started to take a downward turn during the administration of President Barack Obama and the recent escalation came in spite of the fact that the Presidents of the two countries have said to have warm personal relations. The arrest of the US Consulate employee, Metin Topuz, last week accelerated the downturn in diplomatic ties.
The Turkish government accused Topuz of espionage and having links to Fethullah Gulen, the Turkish cleric who lives in an exile in the US State. The US authorities rejected the allegations as “without merit”.
Diplomatic ties between Turkey and the US began to deteriorate soon after President Trump took charge of the White House in January and his administration picked up a Kurdish-dominated force in Syria to fight ISIS militants, which is seen a terrorist group both by the US and Turkey.
Turkey has also been demanding the extradition of Gulen, whom it accused of masterminding the failed coup in July 2016 against the government.
The halting of visas between the two countries represented an unusually perilous turn in the relationship, according to the analysts as quoted by the report. The new restrictions by the two countries will affect tourists, business executives, students and others.