Erdogan blames US ambassador John Bass for the diplomatic misunderstandings

ANKARA: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday said that US ambassador in Turkey, John Bass is cause of diplomatic tussle with US. America should sacrifice its relation with Turkey just for one person.

“It is the ambassador here who caused this,” Erdogan told a meeting in Ankara, referring to the outgoing US envoy in Turkey, John Bass.

“It is unacceptable for the United States to sacrifice its strategic partner like Turkey for a presumptuous ambassador,” he said.

The dispute erupted last week when Turkey arrested a Turkish employee of the US consulate in Istanbul on suspicion of links to Fethullah Gulen, a US-based Muslim preacher who Ankara blames for last year´s failed coup.

In response, Washington halted issuing non-immigrant visas from its missions in Turkey, prompting Ankara to hit back with a tit-for-tat move.

Appearing to have no regrets despite the row, Erdogan said Turkey was “fully behind its decision” on the visa suspensions.

Although Turkish officials blamed the ambassador for the spat, the State Department said Bass had been operating with the full authority of the US government.

Bass is due to leave Turkey at the weekend after he was named the US envoy to Afghanistan earlier this year.

“If the giant America is ruled by an ambassador in Ankara, what a shame,” Erdogan said.