December 19, 2017 / 10:59 AM / in 2 months

U.S. Embassy in Turkey says visa appointments only available from Jan 2019

ANKARA (Reuters) - The U.S. Embassy in Turkey said on Tuesday that visa appointments were only available from early 2019, due to an accumulation of applications following a diplomatic spat that prompted the two NATO allies to mutually suspend granting visas.

“In spite of long wait times, the U.S. Mission to Turkey continues to process non-immigrant visas. Appointments are available for January 2019, and applicants can as always choose to apply outside of Turkey,” it said.

The United States in November resumed “limited visa services” in Turkey after getting what it said were assurances about the safety of its local staff. Washington halted issuing visas at its missions in Turkey in October, citing the detention of two local employees.

Turkey soon matched the move, relaxing a visa ban of its own that was instituted in retaliation against Washington. However, Turkey said it had not offered assurances.

In May, a translator at the U.S. consulate in the southern province of Adana was arrested and, more recently, a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) worker was detained in Istanbul. Both are accused of links to last year’s coup attempt. The U.S. embassy has said the accusations are baseless.

Turkey has been angered by what it sees as U.S. reluctance to hand over the cleric Fethullah Gulen, who has lived in Pennsylvania since 1999 and whom Ankara blames for orchestrating the coup. U.S. officials have said courts require sufficient evidence to order his extradition.

Writing by Ece Toksabay; Editing by Daren Butler, William Maclean

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