Turkish and American authorities kicked off on Tuesday talks to end the visa dispute that erupted after Ankara arrested Metin Topuz, an employee at the US consulate in Istanbul.
Ankara offered a gesture of goodwill to the Washington by releasing from custody the wife and daughter of another consulate employee, who authorities want to question over his alleged links to the banned Fethullah Gulen group.
The authorities had summoned for interrogation the second employee over his relatives’ alleged links to the failed 2016 coup. The wife and daughter were held for a week before their release and are currently barred from leaving the country.
Topuz was arrested in early October for also having connections to Gulen’s group.
The Turkish-American talks got underway at the Foreign Ministry in Ankara. The US delegation at the discussions is headed by Jonathan Cohen and the Turkish side is headed Ahmet Muhtar Gun.
Washington suspended visa services to Turkey after Topuz’s arrest. Ankara reciprocated by also suspending visa services and efforts have been underway by both sides to avert any escalation in the crisis.
The judiciary has ordered Topuz’s imprisonment for his links to the coup and for alleged spying.
Tensions spiked further, when on Monday, the General Prosecution in Istanbul announced that it had summoned another consulate employee, who does not enjoy diplomatic immunity. He was summoned over the same charges as Topuz.
Gulen has been exiled in the US since 1999. Ankara has accused him of orchestrating last year’s failed coup, an allegation he denies.