Turkey takes on US: Erdogan says US is hiding suspect linked to coup as it blocks visas | World | News

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Recep Tayyip Erdogan has also repeated his support for suspending the issuing of visas for Turkey in a tit-for-tat move after Washington suspended its visa service.

The hostilities between the two countries were sparked last week after Metin Topuz was arrested over alleged links to the US-based cleric Fehullah Gulen, who Ankara claims was behind the failed military coup.

Mr Topuz will meet with his lawyer tomorrow, Turkish justice minister Abdulhamit Gul said.

The arrest sparked a dispute between the two Nato countries, escalating into the recent suspension of visa services.

Turkey’s leader said that Mr Topuz was “clearly linked” to the cleric.

Mr Erdogan blamed the dispute on the outgoing US ambassador, saying that Washington was “sacrificing” relations with its ally.

Mr Erdogan told provincial governors in Anakara today: “Let me be very clear, the person who caused this is the ambassador here. It is unacceptable for the United States to sacrifice a strategic partner to an ambassador who doesn’t know his place.”

Diplomatic moves have been taken to resolve the situation with talks between foreign ministers being described as “constructive” by Turkey’s deputy prime minister Bekir Bozdag.

Mr Bozdag said: “Talks between the foreign minister and US secretary of state Rex Tillerson were very constructive. Representatives from both sides decided to meet and work together.”

Mr Tillerson had met with Mevlut Cavusoglu on Wednesday, saying he had “profound concern” over the situation and asked Turkish authorities to produced their evidence.

The current row with the US comes as Turkish authorities implemented a crackdown on those it believes are connected to the coup and has issued arrest warrants for 25 soldiers in Turkey and the Turkish-controlled part of Cyprus.

Since the coup, more than 50,000 people have been jailed pending trial over links to Gulen, while 150,000 people have been sacked or suspended from jobs in the military, public and private sectors.

Meanwhile Turkey has also said it will gradually close its border with northern Iraq as part of a co-ordinated move with Iraq and Iran in response to the independence referendum in the Kurdish region of Iraq.

Turkish prime minister Binali Yildirim is expected to visit Baghdad on Sunday to meet with Iraqi counterpart Haider al-Abadi.



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