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Mattis says US will work to ‘stay aligned’ with Turkey


The U.S. will work to ensure that military relations with Turkey will be unaffected by an ongoing diplomatic row, Defense Secretary James Mattis said Wednesday. “It’s a NATO ally that we will work hard to stay aligned with against our common enemy. And we are doing good work together, military to military”, Mattis told reporters en route to Central Command in Tampa, Florida. Ongoing military operations have so far been “unaffected” by the row, Mattis said. When asked if he thought future operations could be affected if tensions continue to run high, he said he did not want to speculate but said past diplomatic spats with various countries have not deteriorated military ties. The U.S. Embassy in Turkey announced Sunday it was suspending the issuance of non-immigrant visas to Turkish nationals following the arrest of Metin Topuz, a Turkish employee of the U.S. consulate in Istanbul. In a retaliatory move, Turkey’s Washington Embassy also suspended non-immigrant visa services. Topuz is suspected to be linked to the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group behind last year’s defeated coup attempt in Turkey, according to a judicial source. Erdogan warned that Turkish-U.S. ties could be further damaged if U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration played a role in the visa decision.

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