USA lifts visa restrictions on Turkey on 'limited basis'

US embassy in Turkey starts to issue visas

The US embassy confirmed in a statement on Monday that it received "initial high-level assurances" from the Turkish Government that there are no additional local employees of the US mission in Turkey under investigation, Xinhua news agency reported.

The resumption of visa services comes one day before Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim is set to meet with Vice President Mike Pence in Washington.

The move came after a U.S. consulate staff member in Istanbul was arrested for allegedly having ties to Fethullah Gulen.

The website of US Embassy and Consulates in Turkey said: "The US Mission in Turkey has resumed processing non-immigrant visas on a limited basis".

Turkey blames Gulen, a US-based Muslim cleric, for orchestrating last year's failed coup attempt.

In response to the USA embassy's statement, which said "the security posture in Turkey has improved efficiently to resume services", the Turkish embassy said that the remarks do not "reflect the truth".

Among the several Americans arrested in Turkey is pastor Andrew Brunson, who ran a church in the western city of Izmir. Turkey retaliated by halting visa services in the US for Americans who want to travel to Turkey. He has been held in Turkey since October 2016 on charges of being a member of Gulen's group.

Turkish authorities, commenting on the arrest of the Consulate General's employee, noted that he had links with the movement of Fethullah Gulen.

Earlier in the day, the U.S. Embassy in Turkey announced visa applications were being processed on a limited basis at its diplomatic missions in Turkey. He was the second local staff member at a USA mission in Turkey to be held.

Meanwhile, members of Erdogan's security detail were indicted by United States authorities after clashes with protesters during an official White House visit in May, infuriating the Turkish president.

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