Qatar is working with Turkey and talking with the Taliban for potential technical support to resume operations in Kabul airport, Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said Thursday.
"We are engaging with them (Taliban), and also working with Turkey if they can provide any technical assistance on that front. Hopefully in the next few days there will be some good news," Sheikh Mohammed said.
He was speaking at a joint news conference with Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab in Doha.
"There is no clear indication when (the airport) is going to be fully operational yet ... We remain hopeful that we will be able to operate it as soon as possible."
Meanwhile, Raab said there is a need to engage with the Taliban in Afghanistan, but Britain has no immediate plans to recognize their government.
He said they had discussed ensuring Afghanistan does not harbor terrorism in the future, preventing a humanitarian crisis, preserving regional stability and holding the Taliban to account for their commitment to a more inclusive government.
Kabul's international airport has been closed to normal traffic since Aug. 16, when the Taliban took control of Kabul. Military flights and evacuations continued until Aug. 31, when U.S. forces quit the country and left the runway without air traffic controllers. A flight from Qatar arrived Wednesday however to bring in airport technicians needed for any reopening for commercial flights.
Al Thani also urged the Taliban to live up to its promise to allow Afghans and foreigners to leave the country freely once the airport reopens.
Attacks in the past week have shown the airport is a target for terrorists, so security is the primary concern.
A suicide bombing – claimed by Daesh’s Afghanistan-Pakistan chapter – struck one of the main gates, killing more than 100 people, including 13 U.S. troops.
On Monday, rockets were fired toward the airport, which the Taliban said were intercepted by the airport's missile defense systems.
Turkey had offered to run security following the withdrawal of foreign troops, but the Taliban repeatedly said it would not accept any foreign military presence in Afghanistan after Aug. 31.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Turkey was still assessing the group's offer, but the Taliban still insisted on controlling security.
“How can we give security to you (the Taliban)? How can we explain to the world if blood is shed again when you take over security?" Erdoğan said to journalists on return from his Balkans tour.
Thousands of skilled workers are believed to have fled the country, despite Taliban pleas for them to stay, and questions remain over whether enough trained workers will be left in the Afghan capital.
The Taliban have insisted they want to keep the civilian airport open, but without guarantees over security, commercial airlines simply would not operate out of Kabul.
Since 2002, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) have 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.
Turkey has been in Afghanistan in a noncombatant role for two decades and has been involved in consultancy efforts, reconstruction and maintenance. It has been operating the airport for six years.
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