U.S. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said on Nov. 7 that they had positive conversations with the Turkish government regarding the ongoing visa issue and that it was a “step in the right direction.”
“We’re only able to do this on a limited basis right now, but we are prioritizing medical, humanitarian, and also student visas in those cases. We’ve had a series of what I would describe as fairly positive conversations with the Government of Turkey. This is certainly a step in the right direction. It’s a positive step,” she told a press briefing in Washington.
“We have received limited assurances that if something should happen with our staff, if Turkey wants to detain our staff, that we will be given a heads-up. That’s among the things that we were assured. We were told that they wouldn’t arrest our people simply for doing their jobs,” she added.
“We still have two of our locally employed staff members who have been detained. In terms of Turkeys’ questioning of our previous statements, I can just show you – I can tell you that the safety and security of our folks is a top issue. The people who were detained as a natural course of their business had to engage with law enforcement, with the Turkish Government. That is something that is an appropriate part of their job. It is a part of their job description,” she said.
“For Turkey to put people in jail and claim that they are involved in activities when they’re simply doing their jobs we think is incorrect. But nevertheless, we’ve taken – they’ve taken some steps in the right direction, and we’ve taken some steps in the right direction,” Nauert added.
The two countries on Nov. 6 partially restored visa services after a nearly month-long row over the arrest of Turkish staffers of a U.S. mission for alleged ties to the Fethullahist Terrorist Organisation (FETÖ).
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım also arrived in the U.S. on Nov. 7 to start his trip amid signs of improving Turkish-U.S. relations.