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Ankara warns against travelling to the US due to the risk of attacks and arbitrary arrests


Ankara (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Turkish government has issued an advisory to its citizens against travelling to the United States due to the risk of “arbitrary arrests” and “attacks”. For those already in the country, it urges them to take precautionary measures.

This come after the US Department of State this week made a similar warning to its citizens, inviting Americans going to Turkey to reconsider their plans.

Speaking to reporters after Friday prayers, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said the reciprocal travel warnings did not help the strained ties between Ankara and Washington.

“The ‘Turkey is not a safe country’ statement does not benefit ties between the two countries,” he said.

Tensions between the United States and Turkey remain high. Once great allies within NATO, relations are now at an historical low.

For Turkey, one of the reasons for strained relations is the failure by the United States to extradite Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, in exile in Pennsylvania, who, according to Turkish authorities, is the mastermind behind the failed coup in July 2016.

The unilateral decision of US President Donald Trump to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the US embassy to the city is another.

Reacting to this, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has tried to lead a response by Muslim countries and announced the opening of a Turkish embassy in East Jerusalem, the capital of the future Palestinian state.

In its statement on Thursday, the Foreign Ministry warned “Turkish citizens travelling to the United States [that they] may be subjected to arbitrary detentions based on testimonies of unrespected sources”.

Turkey has dismissed as politically motivated the arrest, trial, and conviction of a Turkish banker caught up in an Iran sanctions-busting case.

The Foreign Ministry also cited the recent rise in violent and terrorist incidents in American territory as another reason for its advisory.

“Attacks by vehicles being driven on crowds, in addition to bomb and gun attacks, are likely to continue to target city centres, cultural events, subway stations, state buildings, places of worship and school campuses,” the statement noted.

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