Erdogan says USA sacrificing strategic ally Turkey

Erdogan says USA sacrificing strategic ally Turkey

Erdogan says USA sacrificing strategic ally Turkey

The strained relations between the two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies escalated last week after Turkey's arrest of the consular employee for suspected link to USA -based cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is accused by Ankara of being behind a failed coup attempt in July 2016.

He also said Ankara will stand behind its decision to mutually suspend visa services with Washington "if the USA secretary of state and the president defend the ambassador's step".

Turkey felt many allies were slow to condemn the coup attempt and failed to appreciate the danger it faced.

Wednesday's talk between the two officials is first since the U.S. Embassy in Turkey on Sunday announced the suspension of non-immigration visas for Turkish nationals following the arrest of a Turkish employee at the U.S. consulate in Istanbul.

The Turkish government's crackdown on Gulen's followers in Turkey has led to the arrests of more than 50,000 people for alleged links to terror groups.

Erdogan spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said earlier that Turkey was assessing a USA proposal for resolving the visa dispute.

Erdogan has blamed outgoing USA ambassador John Bass, saying he was putting at risk a decades-old alliance.

"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", Erdogan told provincial governors meeting in Ankara.

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"We don't want this dispute to last more than a second", Simsek said of the current visa spat at a briefing on US business opportunities in Turkey at the US Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday.

But Erdogan aired a list of grievances, accusing Washington of sheltering suspected members of the outlawed Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), and supporters of Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen he blames for last year's coup attempt.

"The information that a second person is there shows something is going on at the consulate in Istanbul", Erdogan said, adding that the USA should evaluate how these "agents" infiltrated the mission or who placed them there.

"Turkey is not doing arbitrary arrests". "So, in absence of that, we're left to conclude that they're being held as a result of their work over many years on behalf of the USA government, which involved a lot of interaction with Turkish law enforcement officials and other officials of Turkish government".

Ambassador Bass said this week no one was hiding in the US consulate, and that he had seen nothing of merit in the charges against the pastor, Andrew Brunson.

He said Turkey would abandon its plans to supply USA -made weapons to its police force.

"If the ambassador in Ankara is leading the grand United States, then shame on you", Erdogan said.

Erdogan blames USA envoy for visa dispute, calling on Washington not to sacrifice alliance for "impertinent ambassador". "They should have said, 'You cannot treat my strategic ally this way, you cannot act this way.' But they couldn't say this", he said.

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