Turkish and United States delegations met at the Ministry of National Defense headquarters in Ankara to discuss cooperation areas in running Afghanistan's Hamid Karzai International Airport, the Turkish Ministry of National Defense said in a statement late Friday.
According to the statement, the parties agreed to continue talks.
Turkey will likely run and guard Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport in Afghanistan if the necessary conditions are met, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Thursday, adding that no additional personnel is to be sent there.
Speaking at a ceremony in the capital, Ankara, Akar said that a delegation from the U.S. came to the ministry early Thursday and that talks about the future of Kabul airport after the withdrawal of U.S.-led NATO troops have been launched.
"No decision has been taken as of now. Apart from our current personnel, we do not have any personnel going to the region," he said.
Describing Afghanistan as "the heart of Asia" and a country of critical importance, Akar said that there are deep-rooted historical and cultural ties between Turkey and Afghanistan.
Highlighting that it is the 100th anniversary of Turkish-Afghan diplomatic relations, he said: "As stated in the Turkish-Afghan alliance agreement of 1921, 'the fate and happiness of the two countries belong to each other.' Therefore, Turkey has made great efforts to ensure that our Afghan brothers live in peace, security and stability, and we will continue to do so."
The situation in Afghanistan has gained importance in recent weeks after U.S. President Joe Biden announced that all American forces will withdraw from the war-torn country by Sept. 11, with NATO allies to follow suit.
Turkey, whose forces in Afghanistan have always been comprised of noncombatant troops, has offered to guard and run Hamid Karzai airport after NATO's withdrawal and has been holding talks with the U.S. on logistic and financial support for the mission, as questions remain on how security will be assured along major transport routes and at the airport, which is the main gateway to the capital, Kabul.
Last week, U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Biden and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan agreed in a meeting at last week's NATO summit that Turkey would play a lead role in securing Kabul airport after the NATO withdrawal.
Erdoğan said after the meeting that Turkey was looking for “diplomatic, logistic and financial assistance” from the U.S. to protect and operate the airport. Turkey also wanted Pakistan and Hungary to be involved in the mission, he said.
A Taliban spokesperson said this month Turkey should withdraw its troops from Afghanistan under the 2020 deal for the pullout of U.S. forces, but Washington and Ankara have said the plans will press on.
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