US still waiting for explanation from Turkey over arrest of embassy staff, says envoy

A picture of the United States Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, Oct 9, 2017. The United States says two locally employed consulate staff have been arrested in Turkey this year.
A picture of the United States Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, Oct 9, 2017. The United States says two locally employed consulate staff have been arrested in Turkey this year.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

ANKARA (Reuters) - The United States is still seeking an explanation from Ankara for the detention of US mission staff in Turkey, which led Washington to suspend issuing visas in Turkey, ambassador John Bass said on Wednesday (Oct 11).

Mr Bass, blamed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for prompting the dispute, told reporters the United States did not intend to disrupt a long-standing relationship with Turkey and the two countries would continue to engage on the issue.

"Unfortunately... the US government still has not received any official communications from the Turkish government about the reasons why our local employees have been detained or arrested," Mr Bass said.

The United States says two locally employed consulate staff have been arrested in Turkey this year. The second arrest at the Istanbul consulate last week led to the US announcing on Sunday it had halted issuing non-immigrant visas in Turkey - a move reciprocated within hours by Ankara.

The dispute has plunged already fragile relations between the two Nato allies to a new low after months of tension linked to the conflict in Syria, last year's failed military coup in Turkey, and US court cases against Turkish officials.