UPDATES WITH MORE QUOTES FROM PREMIER
By Nilay Kar Onum
ANKARA (AA) - Prime Minister Binali Yildirim on Wednesday expressed the hope that strained ties between Turkey and the U.S. would normalize soon.
“We hope that relations between the two allies will return to normal soon,” Yildirim said during a meeting with provincial governors at the Cankaya Palace in capital Ankara.
He assured governors that Ankara would use "common sense" in dealing with the situation.
His remarks came after the U.S. Embassy in Ankara announced it had suspended non-immigrant visa services at all diplomatic facilities in Turkey on Sunday.
In response, Turkey's Washington Embassy suspended non-immigrant visa services in the U.S. citing security concerns.
The decision came after Turkish national Metin Topuz, confirmed by the U.S. Istanbul Consulate as a local employee, was remanded in custody over terror charges by an Istanbul court last week.
Topuz is suspected to be linked to the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group behind last year’s defeated coup in Turkey, according to a judicial source.
Ankara accuses FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen of orchestrating the attempted coup, which left 250 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.
Topuz has been linked to a number of FETO suspects, including police commissioners and former prosecutor Zekeriya Oz, a fugitive accused of attempting to overthrow the government through the use of force, the source, speaking on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media, said.
- Reconnaissance mission in Syria
About recent developments in northwestern Syrian city of Idlib, Yildirim said: “We are aware that there is an attempt to create a terror corridor in Syria today.
“That’s why we are on the field to take measures in advance.”
Referring to the Turkish military’s reconnaissance activities in Idlib, he said Turkey has been making efforts to create a peace corridor instead of the terror corridor.
On Monday, the Turkish military said its troops began reconnaissance activities in Idlib, which borders Turkey’s southern Hatay province, as part of an international agreement to establish de-escalation zones.
The operation in the northwestern region was launched on Sunday under a deal reached with Russia and Iran during the Syrian peace talks in Kazakh capital Astana.
The establishment of de-escalation zones was agreed to in May between Turkey, which backs groups opposed to Syria's Bashar al-Assad regime, and Russia and Iran, who support the regime.
Turkey’s latest military operation follows the successful Operation Euphrates Shield, which saw the Free Syrian Army, backed by Turkish forces, clear Daesh from territory in northern Syria between August 2016 and this March.