Turkey continues talks with US and other countries over Kabul airport


Turkey has continued negotiations on securing and operating Afghanistan’s Kabul airport with the United States and other countries, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters in Ankara, Akar said: “There are some issues that we have agreed on with (US Secretary of Defense Lloyd) Mr. Austin in the negotiations. In addition, there are positive developments within NATO with Turkey’s initiatives.

Akar said discussions with the U.S. technical delegation on the airport are continuing in a constructive manner.

Stating that the problem is multi-faceted, Akar said, “There are other countries that want to help Afghanistan. We are trying to continue the process with our Afghan brothers, NATO, the EU and the international community.

He reiterated that Turkey has been in Afghanistan for 20 years and has been involved in advisory, reconstruction and maintenance efforts while operating the airport for six years.

Akar said there is consensus among countries that Hamid Karzai Airport should remain open and operational. He said that in the opposite scenario, countries could withdraw their embassies in the face of a lack of communication and safe travel, making Afghanistan an isolated state.

A delegation of officials from the US State Department and the Pentagon recently arrived in Ankara to discuss progress in efforts to keep Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport operational.

The two sides subsequently agreed to continue discussions, according to a statement from the Turkish Ministry of National Defense.

The United States on Monday expressed its appreciation for Turkey’s assistance in the rapid withdrawal of US and NATO troops from Afghanistan.

“We certainly welcome Turkey’s constructive role with regard to the withdrawal and the broader safety and security situation in Afghanistan,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.

He further praised Ankara’s “support for the diplomatic process” in Afghanistan.

On the other side, Akar further pointed out that Turkey is closely following the activities of the Taliban as well as the possibility of a new wave of refugees to Turkey.

Meanwhile, the Taliban warned Turkey on the same day against expanding its presence in the country when US-led forces leave the country, insisting the move was “reprehensible.”

“The decision … is misguided, a violation of our sovereignty and territorial integrity and contrary to our national interests,” the group said in a statement, days after Turkey pledged to provide troops for protect Kabul airport when foreign forces leave next month. .

The Taliban have said that if Turkey’s existence in the country continues, then the group is ready to fight.

Turkey, whose forces in Afghanistan have always been made up of non-combat troops, has offered to keep the airport as questions remain about how security will be provided along major transport routes and at the airport, which is the main gateway to the capital Kabul. Airport security is critical to the functioning of diplomatic missions outside of Afghanistan as Western forces withdraw.

The airport is strategically located near the Afghan Presidential Palace and foreign diplomatic missions in Kabul and is the only place to evacuate diplomats in an emergency.

A new air defense system has been activated and tested at Kabul airport over the past two days.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry called for a fair sharing of the burden of the task given that “the safe and uninterrupted operation of the airport is essential for the continued presence of diplomatic missions in Afghanistan”.

Following a series of meetings with NATO leaders on the sidelines of the alliance summit, President Recep Tayyip ErdoÄŸan said Turkey was seeking Pakistani and Hungarian involvement in the post-Afghanistan mission in Afghanistan. departure of the US-led NATO force.

However, the Taliban opposed Ankara’s proposal, saying Turkey should also withdraw its troops in accordance with the 2020 agreement for withdrawal.

By September 11 at the latest, an estimated 2,300 to 3,500 remaining US troops and some 7,000 allied NATO forces are expected to leave Afghanistan, ending nearly 20 years of military service. Some fear that the Afghan government and its security forces are ill-prepared for the withdrawal and that the country may sink into chaos.

The Taliban ruled Afghanistan until they were ousted by a US-led coalition after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States. In recent weeks, Taliban fighters have invaded several districts in southern and northern Afghanistan, convincing government security forces to surrender and seizing their weapons and military vehicles.


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