Turkish Officials to Boycott Meetings with US Ambassador: Erdogan


On Sunday, the US mission in Turkey and the Turkish mission in Washington cut back visa services after Metin Topuz, a USA consulate employee, was arrested in Turkey last week.

"The notion that people in our employment are facing or are under suspicion of terrorism charges here, that is a very serious allegation", Bass said.

Ambassador John Bass said the decision to suspend granting visas was not taken lightly, but the detentions indicated a breakdown in communication between the two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies, whose relations have come under increasing strain.

In a blunt and personal criticism directed at Bass, Erdogan said the US envoy acted unilaterally in suspending USA visa services in Turkey after the arrest of Topuz.

Novi Pazar, the largest town in Serbia's southwestern region known informally as Sandzak - home to a large Muslim (Bosniak) minority - is today decorated with billboards with Erdogan's images, flags of Serbia and Turkey, and Bosniak flags. Erdogan said his government members were boycotting Bass' farewell activities in the Turkish capital Ankara.

Since the failed military coup in July a year ago, in which at least 240 people were killed, more than 50,000 people have been detained and 150,000, including teachers, academics, soldiers and journalists, have been suspended from work. The cheering crowd held banners praising Erdogan, while many struggled to shake hands with the Turkish president.

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Some contracts were signed between the Ukrainian and Turkish defense companies.

Bass is soon to leave Turkey for Kabul to take up his new post as U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan. Sandzak, where many people consider Bosnia or Turkey - rather than Serbia - as their motherland, has remained peaceful but tense over the years.

Turkish authorities summoned a USA consulate worker to testify on Monday over his relatives' alleged links to last year's failed coup attempt, state-run Anadolu news agency said, days after the arrest of another consulate employee.

Turkey also suspended the issuance of visas to United States citizens. The two were later brought to Istanbul for legal procedures, it said.

He denied reports that Turkish police were trying to speak to another consulate employee.

He said Topuz, as a staff of the Drug Enforcement Agency, had remarkable achievements in cooperation with the Turkish authorities that "led a lot of narcotics off the street".