US decision to halt Turkey visa ‘saddening’ – Erdogan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that the US embassy’s decision to suspend all non-immigrant visa applications was very, very “saddening”, as he justified the tit-for-tat response by Ankara.

“For the (US) ambassador in Ankara to take a decision like this, to put it into practice, is saddening,” Erdogan said in a joint news conference on Monday with his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko in Ukraine’s capital Kiev.

The Turkish president said that he had immediately ordered a retaliatory measure that resulted in the Turkish embassy in Washington issuing an almost identical text to the US’ announcement.

“Turkey is governed by the rule of law. Above all, we are not a tribe, we are not a tribal state,” he said.

Ankara summoned the US embassy’s second-in-charge, asking that Washington review the decision that caused “unnecessary escalation” and “victimised” both Turkish and US citizens, a Turkish Foreign Ministry official said.

“It is Turkey’s right to try a Turkish citizen for acts carried out in Turkey,” said Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul. “Everyone should follow (legal procedures) with respect.”

Later on Monday, prosecutors summoned another Istanbul mission staffer in an escalating crisis. Turkish authorities say that both Topuz and the second unnamed employee have no diplomatic immunity or title.

Sinem Koseoglu, the Al Jazeera correspondent, said that Anakara believes the visa suspension measure is “disproportional”.

“Turkey and the United States have been natural allies, Turkey has always been a point of stabilisation in the region, both in military and political terms,” she said, adding that there is lack of trust now.

“As far as I know, when American president Donald Trump and Turkish President Erdogan speak on the phone, they would have a way out of this crisis.”

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