Ankara: The Taliban, which took control of Afghanistan on August 15, have sought technical help from Turkey to run the Kabul airport after the departure of foreign forces.
The Taliban have, however, insisted that Ankara’s military must also withdraw fully by the August end deadline.
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“The Taliban have made a request for technical support in running Kabul airport,” a senior Turkish official told Reuters.
He, however, added that the Taliban demand for all Turkish troops to leave would complicate any prospective mission.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the Turkish official further said “ensuring the safety of workers without the Turkish Armed Forces is a risky job”.
It though remains unclear whether Turkey would agree to give technical assistance if its troops were not there to provide security.
Turkey, which was part of a NATO mission in Afghanistan, still has hundreds of troops at Kabul airport.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s government has though said for months that it could keep a presence at the airport if requested.
Another Turkish official told Reuters that a final decision would be made by the August 31 deadline for foreign forces to leave the country and end a 20-year military involvement in Afghanistan.
Keeping the airport open after foreign forces hand over control is vital not just for Afghanistan to stay connected to the world but also to maintain aid supplies and operations.
“It’s going to be a critical lifeline for the humanitarian action in Afghanistan,” said Mary Ellen McGroarty, World Food Programme director in Afghanistan, last week.
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Earlier on Tuesday, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said the group sought good relations with Ankara.
“We want good relations with Turkey, the Turkish government and the Muslim people of the Turkish nation. As for Turkish forces stationed in Afghanistan, we are not in need of them in our country and once the evacuation is completed we will secure the airport by ourselves,” he said.