Turkey offers to run Kabul airport after NATO withdrawal

TEHRAN, Jun. 08 (MNA) – Turkey has offered to guard and run Kabul’s airport after the United States and other NATO forces withdraw from Afghanistan.

Turkey has offered to guard and run Kabul’s airport after the United States and other NATO forces withdraw from Afghanistan, but US officials say Ankara is imposing conditions that need to be resolved as their leaders prepare to meet next week, Reuters reported.

Turkish officials say Ankara made the proposal at a NATO meeting in May when the United States and its partners agreed on a plan to withdraw troops by Sept. 11 after 20 years of war trying to defeat Taliban forces.

Turkish and US officials have discussed possible requirements for the mission, some of which Washington has agreed to address, one Turkish official said.

“Following the United States’ decision to withdraw from Afghanistan, Turkey has made an offer to ensure the security of Kabul airport. In this framework, there are talks underway with NATO and the United States,” the Turkish official said.

Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said on Monday that Ankara’s offer was contingent on backup from those allies.

“We intend to stay in Afghanistan depending on conditions. What are our conditions? Political, financial and logistical support. If these are met, we can remain at Hamid Karzai International Airport,” his ministry quoted Akar as saying.

US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they welcomed the Turkish proposal but that Ankara was asking for too many US “enablers” for the mission.

The officials also cited some US concern about Turkey’s reliability, given their other disagreements, but said Washington would find a way to make it work.

NATO leaders will discuss Afghanistan at a summit next Monday, where Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan will meet Joe Biden for the first time since the US president took office.

With efforts to resolve the dispute over Turkey’s purchase of Russian S-400 missile defences, which led Washington to impose sanctions on Turkey’s arms industry last year, the airport plan may offer a rare opportunity to build goodwill.

The two countries are also at odds over US support for Syrian Kurdish fighters, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a U.S. court case against a Turkish state bank.

ZZ/PR

News Code 174538

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