Turkey holds talks with Taliban on running Kabul airport

Turkey has held the first round of talks with the Taliban for running the operation of the Kabul international airport, President Tayyip Erdogan confirmed, adding negotiations are going on and no final decision has been made yet

Aug 27, 2021
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Turkey President Tayyip Erdogan

Turkey has held the first round of talks with the Taliban for running the operation of the Kabul international airport, President Tayyip Erdogan confirmed, adding negotiations are going on and no final decision has been made yet.

Reuters earlier this week reported that the Taliban, which seized power in Afghanistan two weeks ago, had asked Turkey for technical assistance to run the airport. The group, however, insisted that Ankara pull out its troops by 31 August, the deadline US President Biden has set for the final withdrawal of all foreign troops. 

Currently, the US is operating the Hamid Karzai International Airport which is flooded by thousands of Afghans and foreign nationals seeking a way out of the country amid uncertainty. On Thursday, twin suicide bombings killed over 100 people, including 13 U.S. soldiers outside the gates of Kabul airport.

"The Taliban have made a request regarding the operation of the Kabul airport. They say, 'We'll ensure security and you can operate it'. But we have not made a decision yet because there is always a possibility of death and such things there," Erdogan was quoted as saying by Reuters.

There was a risk of getting sucked into something that would be hard to explain given uncertainty around the possible mission, Erdogan said. He added calm should be restored in Kabul before making a decision on the airport. 

Despite pressure from the NATO allies to extend troops' presence at the airport beyond 31 August, Biden said they will withdraw all troops by the deadline. As the security situation remains volatile, the Taliban, at the same time, would find it difficult to convince Ankara to run the airport without maintaining its troops.

Turkey, the only Muslim country in NATO, has taken a delicate view of the Taliban's ascendance in Kabul, praising the group for moderate statements, seeking assurance of the rights for women and girls but also said they will evaluate future ties once the group forms a government.

Earlier, Turkey had criticized the Taliban when the group warned the former for considering the same request from the earlier US-backed Afghan government. 

(SAM)