Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag says representatives to come together in the forthcoming days and take steps accordingly
Turkey and the U.S. have agreed to work to resolve the diplomatic row between the countries, Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said Thursday.
“A decision between the two countries has been made for representatives to come together and work on this issue,” he told local news channel Haber Turk.
The U.S. Embassy on Sunday announced the suspension of some visa processing for Turkish nationals following the arrest of a Turkish employee at the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul, prompting a tit-for-tat response from Ankara.
Metin Topuz, a long-standing consulate employee, was arrested last week over alleged ties to the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), which is said to have orchestrated last year’s attempted coup in Turkey.
Bozdag said Turkish and U.S. diplomats would meet within the next few days.
Referring to Topuz, he added: “The testimony of a U.S. local staff member, a Turkish citizen, was filed to both the police and prosecutors in the presence of a lawyer.
“His testimony at the criminal court of peace was also filed in the presence of a lawyer. It’s impossible to do this without a lawyer.”
Bozdag stressed that diplomatic and legal methods should be used to resolve the issue rather than “gathering the media to make a statement saying that there is an idea of vengeance here”.
Bozdag was referring to remarks last week by outgoing U.S. Ambassador John Bass claiming Topuz’s arrest was motivated by "vengeance rather than justice".
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned on Tuesday that Turkish-U.S. ties could be further damaged if the Trump administration played a role in the visa decision, but a State Department spokeswoman later said the move had been “coordinated” with the White House.
Asked about a second embassy employee who was summoned by Istanbul prosecutors to testify on Monday, Bozdag said they should rely on the U.S. statement that says they are not hiding him.
“The security forces will do the task of searching throughout Turkey for the people wanted under warrants and deliver them to the judiciary when they find them,” he said.
On Monday the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s office issued a statement saying an employee at the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul without diplomatic immunity, identified as N.M.C., had been summoned to testify.
The statement added that his child and wife have been detained on terror charges in Amasya, a city in the Black Sea region.
Bozdag also stressed how important it is for the records of embassy employees to be clean, adding: “Especially embassies should consider the sensitivities of the country where they are located in terms of the local staff”.