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U.S. Embassy in Ankara says lifts all Turkey visa restrictions

The U.S. Embassy in the Turkish capital Ankara said on Thursday it lifted all restrictions on visa services, after Turkey fulfilled high-level assurances on detained local embassy personnel, easing a months-long row.

US consular missions in Turkey are set to resume full visa services following a suspension triggered by the arrest of a consulate staffer, the American embassy in Ankara said in a statement Thursday.

"Based on adherence to these assurances, the Department of State is confident that the security posture has improved sufficiently to allow for the full resumption of visa services in Turkey," the embassy said in a statement.

Turkey's lira firmed after the statement to 3.78 against the dollar, its highest level since Oct. 31.

TURKISH MISSIONS IN US ALSO TO LIFT VISA RESTRICTIONS ON US CITIZENS
Turkish missions in the United States will resume full visa services for US citizens, Ankara's embassy in Washington said Thursday, matching an identical move by American consulates in Turkey.

"Within the framework of the principle of reciprocity, the restrictions placed from our side on the visa regime for US citizens are being lifted simultaneously," it said in a statement, following an announcement by the US embassy in Ankara that full visa services for Turkish citizens were being restored.

The move comes despite the embassy's earlier statement saying visa appointments will only be fully available from January 2019.

FETO SUSPECT CAUSES DISPUTE BETWEEN TWO NATO ALLIES
The two NATO allies mutually suspended visa services at their diplomatic mission in October after U.S. Consulate employee Metin Topuz was arrested after Turkish authorities charged him with links to the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), the group behind last year's defeated coup attempt in Turkey.

Topuz, a longtime U.S. Consulate employee working as a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) officer at the Istanbul Bureau, was arrested after prosecutors discovered alleged close contact with dozens of former police chiefs and officers jailed for links to FETÖ.

Topuz has been linked to a number of FETÖ suspects, including police commissioners and former prosecutor Zekeriya Öz, a fugitive accused of attempting to overthrow the government through the use of force, according to a judicial source who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

FETÖ is blamed for the July 15, 2016, coup attempt that killed 249 people across Turkey.

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