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Turkey, U.S. resume visa processing but tensions linger

By Ed Adamczyk
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, L, met with President Donald Trump, R., in Washington in May, prior to a diplomatic conflict lessened by reciprocal announcements Monday that each country will again process visa applications. File Photo by Michael Reynolds/UPI
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, L, met with President Donald Trump, R., in Washington in May, prior to a diplomatic conflict lessened by reciprocal announcements Monday that each country will again process visa applications. File Photo by Michael Reynolds/UPI

Nov. 7 (UPI) -- Turkey and the United States resumed accepting each other's visa applications on Monday, a month after a diplomatic conflict suspended the practice.

The United States announced on Monday that limited visa applications would be accepted at its embassy and consular offices in turkey. Turkey's Washington embassy made a reciprocal statement.

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"Turkey will resume processing visa applications of U.S. citizens at its diplomatic and consular missions in the U.S.A. on a 'limited basis,'" the Turkish statement read.

The United States suspended the process on Oct. 8, after several of its consular staffers were arrested in Turkey.

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The U.S. State Department said in a statement Monday that "the United States has received initial high-level assurances from the Government of Turkey that there are no additional local employees of our Mission in Turkey under investigation. We have also received initial assurances from the Government of Turkey that local staff of our Embassy and consulates will not be detained or arrested for performing their official duties and that Turkish authorities will inform the U.S. government in advance if the Government of Turkey intends to detain or arrest a member of our local staff in the future."

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The news caused Turkey's stock exchanges to finish the day on record highs, including an 11 percent price increase of Turkish Airlines stock. The country's currency, the lira, improved by 1.5 percent against the dollar.

After markets closed, Turkey's Washington embassy issued a statement contradicting some of the U.S. statement. It said the U.S. version of the situation "does not reflect the truth. Turkey also has very serious concerns about the ongoing cases against Turkish citizens in the U.S." Referring to one U.S. consulate employee, Metin Tepuz, it added that Tepuz "has been the subject of a judicial process not because of his official duties but due to very serious charges against him." Topuz was arrested over alleged ties to the Fetullahist Terrorist Organization, which the Turkish government believes was responsible for a 2016 failed coup.

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He has allegedly been linked to 121 FETO suspects, the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office has said.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim has sought a meeting with President Donald Trump to address diplomacy between the two countries. Trump is currently in Asia. Yildirim and U.S. Vice president Mike Pence will meet later this week in Washington.

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The topics to discuss include Turkey's objections to U.S. involvement with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party, a U.S. ally in the Middle East in fighting the Islamic State; an arrest warrant against bodyguards of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who violently dispersed protesters in Washington during Erdogan's visit in May; mutual requests for the release of detainees, including an American pastor jailed in Turkey for allegedly aided FETO and two Turkish nationals who allegedly contravened U.S. sanctions against Iran, and the Turkish demand to extradite Turkish minister Fetullah Gulen, a Pennsylvania resident who Turkey says masterminding the attempted coup last year.

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