The international community should continue to engage with Afghanistan, Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Wednesday.
Çavuşoğlu and his counterparts exchanged opinions on irregular migration and the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan as part of a virtual G-20 foreign ministers meeting hosted by the Italian chair of the intergovernmental forum.
Cihad Erginay, Turkey's ambassador to Afghanistan, and Amir Khan Muttaqi, the Taliban's acting foreign affairs minister, held talks earlier in the day on humanitarian aid, health, Afghan refugees and students.
Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said Muttaqi asked Erginay to complete Ankara's projects in Afghanistan, emphasizing the desire to maintain relations and cooperation.
The Taliban are willing to develop strong relations with Turkey, the deputy foreign minister of the group's interim government in Afghanistan said last week. Last month, the Taliban also said they have asked all countries, primarily Turkey, to help the Afghan nation.
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.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan welcomed the moderate statements made by Taliban officials and announced that Turkey is ready to cooperate with all parties to ensure peace and stability.
In response to the announcement of the interim government, Erdoğan said Turkey will closely follow developments in Afghanistan.
Turkey has been holding regular talks with the Taliban in Kabul, where it still has a diplomatic presence, about the conditions under which it could help operate the airport in the Afghan capital.
When the Taliban took possession of Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport after the United States completed its withdrawal on Aug. 31, the focus shifted from the mammoth Western evacuation operation to the group's future plans for the transport hub.
Turkey had offered to run security following the withdrawal of foreign troops, but the Taliban had repeatedly said it would not accept any foreign military presence in Afghanistan after Aug. 31.
Since 2002, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) had operated in Afghanistan under the United Nations, NATO and bilateral agreements to contribute to the peace, welfare and stability of the Afghan people. Turkey had more than 500 noncombatant troops stationed in Afghanistan as part of NATO’s now-abandoned mission in the war-torn country. While Turkey had been in Afghanistan in a noncombatant role for two decades and had been involved in consultancy efforts, reconstruction and maintenance, it had been operating the airport for six years.
After the Taliban seized control of the country, Turkey offered technical and security assistance at the airport.
Keeping the airport open after foreign forces handed over control is vital not just for Afghanistan to stay connected to the world but to maintain aid supplies and operations.
The Taliban have insisted they want to keep the civilian airport open, but without guarantees over security, commercial airlines are reluctant to operate out of Kabul.
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