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Turkey most reliable country for Kabul airport mission: Hekmatyar

Afghanistan does not have the necessary means to ensure the security of Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport and requires the support of a foreign country in this regard, Afghanistan’s former Prime Minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar said Tuesday, underlining that Turkey is the best and most reliable candidate for the mission, considering the deep relations between the two countries.

In an exclusive interview in Kabul, the veteran Afghan leader said that he and his party, the Hezb-e-Islami party, discussed the security and management of the Kabul airport with the Taliban.

“The airport needs to be secure so that ambassadors from abroad can come and work comfortably. Afghanistan does not have the capacity to provide that security. Therefore, we need the support of a foreign country. The best and most reliable country in this regard is Turkey. We also conveyed this to the Taliban. Relations between Turkey and Afghanistan go back centuries,” he said.

Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar reiterated Monday that Turkey may consider operating Afghanistan’s Kabul airport if the conditions are suitable and it is requested to do so.

Turkey had been negotiating with both the Taliban and Washington about playing a role in protecting the airport after the United States troop withdrawal, which was recently completed. But the Taliban’s swift capture of the Afghan capital changed Ankara’s plans.

 

After the Taliban seized control of the country, Turkey offered technical and security assistance at the airport.

Keeping the airport open after foreign forces hand over control is vital not just for Afghanistan to stay connected to the world but to maintain aid supplies and operations.

Turkish officials said that the Taliban have asked Turkey for technical help to run the Kabul airport after the departure of foreign forces but had insisted that Ankara’s military also fully withdraw by the end of the August deadline.

Within this scope, Turkey Friday completed the evacuation of all Turkish personnel and all Turkish citizens who wished to leave Afghanistan, in less than 48 hours. The evacuation was completed days before the Taliban’s Aug. 31 deadline for foreign forces to leave the country.

The Turkish government has taken a pragmatic approach to the recent events in Afghanistan. Underlining that new realities have emerged in Afghanistan, Ankara said it will move forward accordingly while keeping communication with all relevant actors open.

Turkey has praised what it described as moderate statements by the Taliban since they captured Kabul on Aug. 15 and has said it is open to engaging with them once a new, inclusive government is formed.

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