Turkish PM hails US visa move, calls for Gulen’s extradition

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of parliament of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Ankara on Tuesday. (AFP)
Updated 08 November 2017
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Turkish PM hails US visa move, calls for Gulen’s extradition

ANKARA/ISTANBUL: Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim on Tuesday described the US’ move to partially resume issuing visas in Turkey as a positive step, but said Washington should extradite a cleric blamed for last year’s failed military coup in Turkey.
“The limited reissuing of visas between the United States and Turkey... prior to our visit can be seen as a positive development,” Yildirim told reporters before leaving for the US, where he is due to meet US Vice President Mike Pence.
The US said on Monday it would resume “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 last month, citing the detention of two local employees.
Turkey said it would match the move, relaxing a visa ban of its own that was instituted last month in retaliation against Washington. However, Yildirim reiterated Turkey’s stance that it had not offered assurances to Washington.
“Both countries are states of law, and procedures are being carried out in accordance with the law. Negotiations regarding the offering of assurances to the United States or vice-versa would breach the principles of laws of state,” he said.
In May, a translator at the US consulate in the southern province of Adana was arrested and, more recently, a US Drug Enforcement Administration worker was detained in Istanbul. Both are accused of links to last year’s coup attempt. The US Embassy has said the accusations are baseless.
Turkey has been angered by what it sees as US reluctance to hand over the cleric Fethullah Gulen, who has lived in Pennsylvania since 1999 and whom Ankara blames for orchestrating the coup. US officials have said courts require sufficient evidence to order his extradition.
Yildirim said Gulen’s extradition would be discussed during his visit, as well as the fate of some Turkish citizens arrested in the US — a reference to the wealthy gold trader who was arrested over Iran sanctions evasion last year and an executive at a state-owned bank arrested this year.
“We have strong evidence that Gulen was behind the July 15 coup attempt and we want his extradition. We want the concerns we have regarding the cases of our citizens arrested in the United States to be eased,” Yildirim said.
“They also have similar requests, and diplomatic channels are being used for discussions, we are both seeking a way out.”

Arrest warrants
A Turkish prosecutor has issued detention warrants for 53 active sergeants over alleged links to Gulen, state media said on Tuesday.
Twenty of the suspects have so far been detained in the operation across 12 provinces, state-run Anadolu Agency said. Thirty-three other soldiers were currently being sought, it said.
The Interior Ministry said on Monday that nearly 700 people had been detained over the previous week on allegations of ties to what Ankara calls the “Gulenist Terror Group.”
Some 50,000 people have been arrested since the failed putsch in July and around 150,000 dismissed or suspended, including soldiers, police, teachers and public servants, over alleged links with the movement of the US-based cleric.


Saudi crown prince, Pompeo send a message to Iran: End hostility or pay the price

Updated 17 June 2019
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Saudi crown prince, Pompeo send a message to Iran: End hostility or pay the price

  • The US secretary of state said the US was discussing a possible international response
  • MBS hoped the Iranian regime “would opt to become a normal state and cease its hostile policy”

JEDDAH: The US will take all actions necessary — “diplomatic and otherwise” — to deter Iran from disrupting Gulf energy supplies, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned on Sunday.

Pompeo spoke hours after Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said the Kingdom would “not hesitate in dealing with any threat against our people, sovereignty and vital interests.”

The twin warnings to the regime in Tehran followed last week’s attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, widely assumed to have been carried out by Iran.

“We don’t want war. We’ve done what we can to deter it,” Pompeo said in a TV interview. “But the Iranians should understand very clearly that we will continue to take actions that deter Iran from engaging in this kind of behavior.

“What you should assume is we are going to guarantee freedom of navigation throughout the Strait of Hormuz. This is an international challenge, important to the entire globe. The US is going to make sure that we take all the actions necessary, diplomatic and otherwise, that achieve that outcome.”

Pompeo said the US was discussing a possible international response, and he had made a number of calls to foreign officials about the tanker attacks.

He said China, Japan, South Korea and Indonesia relied heavily on freedom of navigation through the strait. “I’m confident that when they see the risk, the risk to their own economies and their own people, and outrageous behavior of Iran, they will join us in this.”

The Saudi crown prince, in an interview with the Arabic-language newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat, said the Kingdom had “supported the re-imposition of US sanctions on Iran out of our belief that the international community needed to take a decisive stance against Iran.”

He hoped the Iranian regime “would opt to become a normal state and cease its hostile policy.”

Crown Prince Mohammed said the Kingdom’s hand was always extended for peace, but the Iranian regime had disrespected the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during his visit to Tehran by attacking the two oil tankers in the Gulf, one of which was Japanese.

“It also employed its militias to carry out a shameful attack against Abha International Airport. This is clear evidence of the Iranian regime’s policy and intentions to target the security and stability of the region.”

The crown prince said the attacks “underscore the importance of our demand before the international community to take a decisive stance against an expansionist regime that has supported terrorism and spread death and destruction over the past decades, not only in the region, but the whole world.”

Prince Mohammed’s interview was “a message to Tehran, and beyond Tehran, to the international community,” the Saudi political analyst and international relations scholar Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri told Arab News.

“He sent out the message that we do not want a war in the region. He was offering peace, as is our nature, and that is what we are doing now. But if it is going to affect our vital interests, our vital resources and our people, we will defend ourselves and take action to handle any threat.  

“We are facing aggressive, barbaric and terrorist threats from Iran, and we must take rapid and decisive action against that. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is sending a message to the world that there must be a solution.”