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    Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of parliament from his ruling AK Party (AKP) during a meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara, Turkey, December 5, 2017

    Turkish Leader Erdogan Says United States Initiated 'Visa Crisis'

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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the United States had initiated the visa crisis between Ankara and Washington, which ended this week.

    "They started the visa crisis and thanks to them, they have ended it themselves. Great. We did not want visa crisis [with the US]. It is now ended. That is what should have happened anyway," Erdogan said, as quoted by the Anadolu Agency.

    Erdogan also expressed a desire to cooperate with the United States in Syria, as Turkey does with Iran and Russia.

    "The problem is that whether the U.S. wants to collaborate with us," the Turkish leader said.

    On Thursday, the US State Department announced its decision to lift all visa restrictions for travelers from Turkey because "the security posture" had improved and Ankara had promised not to arrest employees of its embassy and consulates.

    READ MORE: US, Turkey Lift Mutual Visa Restrictions — State Department

    Shortly after the US government's announcement, the Turkish Embassy in Washington, DC, released a statement saying that it would recommence issuing visas for US citizens as a gesture of reciprocity. However, the Turkish side dismissed the claim that it had given the mentioned reassurances to the United States and emphasized its concerns about continuing cases against Turkish citizens in the United States.

    The US Embassy in Ankara suspended non-immigrant visa services at US diplomatic facilities in Turkey in October following the arrest of Metin Topuz, an employee at the US Consulate General in Istanbul. Ankara responded by suspending visa applications for US citizens.

    Turkish authorities arrested Topuz for alleged links to the movement of the Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, whose organization is accused of orchestrating the thwarted 2016 coup.

    In November, the countries partially resumed visa services and lifted some restrictions.


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