Turkey offers to run Kabul airport, but puts conditions in place
Turkey has offered to guard and run Kabul’s airport after the United States and other NATO forces withdraw from Afghanistan, but U.S. officials say Ankara is imposing conditions which need to be resolved as their leaders prepare to meet next week, Reuters reported.
Afghan Voice Agency (AVA)_ officials say Ankara made the proposal at a in May when the United States and its partners agreed a plan to withdraw troops by September 11 after 20 years of war trying to defeat Taliban forces.
Turkish and U.S. 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.
A Turkish role securing the airport for international flights could help improve ties between Ankara and the West, sorely strained by Turkey’s purchase of Russian defence systems and disputes with European countries over drilling rights in east Mediterranean waters, Reuters reported.
Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said on Monday that ’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 International Airport,” his ministry quoted Akar as saying.
U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they welcomed the Turkish proposal but that Ankara was asking for too many U.S. “enablers” for the mission, Reuters reported.
The officials also cited some U.S. 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 U.S. president took office.
Securing Kabul airport could help persuade some countries to maintain a diplomatic presence in Afghanistan. Last month Australia shut its embassy there due to security concerns.