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Turkey's Çavuşoğlu, US' Tillerson discuss in phone call

TURKEYS ÇAVUŞOĞLU, US TILLERSON DISCUSS IN PHONE CALL

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu held a phone call with his U.S. counterpart Rex Tillerson late Thursday.

Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu spoke with his U.S. counterpart Rex Tillerson on the phone about Washington's decision to lift restrictions on visa services, a diplomatic source said late Thursday.

No detail was disclosed on the content of the phone call between the ministers, said a Turkish diplomatic official who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

Earlier on Thursday, the State Department released a statement that indicated visa services in Turkey had been fully restored.

The U.S. claimed the decision came after Turkey reassured officials that local employees would not be subjected to additional scrutiny.

However, the Turkish Embassy in Washington rejected those assertions and said Ankara did not provide any assurance related to the ongoing judicial process in Turkey.

"We find it wrong to misinform the Turkish and the American public by claiming that the U.S. received assurances from Turkey," the mission said.

"We welcome the decision of the United States to resume as of today regular visa procedures, by lifting the restrictions applied to our citizens," the Turkish Embassy in the U.S. said in a statement.

In a reciprocal move, Turkey also lifted restrictions on visa services for American citizens, according to the embassy.

The visa row was sparked Oct. 8, when the U.S. Embassy in Ankara announced the suspension of non-immigrant visa services for Turkish nationals.

That followed the arrest of Metin Topuz -- a U.S. consulate employee who was arrested for alleged ties to the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO). The group is accused of being behind the July 15, 2016, defeated coup in Turkey.

Topuz has been linked to more than 120 FETO suspects, including police chiefs, over a protracted period, according to the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office.

Ankara responded to the U.S. move in October with similar actions.

FETO and its U.S.-based leader, Fetullah Gulen, are also suspected of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the Turkish state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.

The terror group has a considerable presence outside Turkey, including private educational institutions that investigators found serve as a revenue stream for the terror group.

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