Erdogan: US 'Sacrificing' Ties With Turkey

(VOA): Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday that the United states is "sacrificing" ties between the two allies as a diplomatic feud between the nations continues. "It is unacceptable for America to sacrifice a strategic partner like Turkey for an impertinent ambassador," Erdogan said, referring to Washington's ambassador to Ankara John Bass, who is due to leave his post later this week for a new assignment in Afghanistan. Relations are deeply strained following the arrest of local U.S. consulate employee Metin Topuz on terrorism and espionage charges in relation to a failed coup staged last year against President Erdogan. Those tensions resulted in both sides severely restricting the issuance of visas. Erdogan blamed Bass for the tensions, having declared that the ambassador would no longer be considered Washington’s legitimate representative.  But Washington has strongly backed Bass’s actions, reiterating its criticism of the detention of its local employee. Observers suggest the move has closed the door to Ankara's hopes of ending the crisis by blaming it on the ambassador, rather than Washington. "We're actually quite surprised by the United States State Department response to what would be considered as a routine investigation," Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek said during a visit to Washington on Wednesday.  "We think the reaction is out of context and we hope that pretty soon this issue will be resolved. U.S. and Turkey have been friends, allies, partners, for over half-a-century. And that relationship, this partnership, I think, is strong enough to weather such crisis," he said. Watch:Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek hopes U.S.-Turkey dispute is temporary ​ Following Topuz's arrest, the U.S. Embassy in Ankara announced that it would temporarily halt all non-immigrant visa applications – a move that was quickly mirrored by Turkey. A statement Sunday from the U.S. Embassy in Ankara said, "Recent events have forced the United States government to reassess the commitment of the government of Turkey to the security of U.S. Mission facilities and personnel." The statement did not say how long the suspension would last. VOA Turkish contributed to this report

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