Ankara and Washington will hold political consultations on bilateral relations as well as regional developments on Sept. 16-17, the Turkish foreign ministry said on Wednesday.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Önal will meet with Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland.
“Bilateral relations, regional issues and international developments are planned to be discussed in the framework of comprehensive political consultations to be held between the delegations during the visit,” the ministry said in a written statement.
With the Taliban in possession of Kabul's airport after the U.S. completed its withdrawal on Aug. 31, the focus will now shift 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 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.
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 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. So far, only Pakistan's national flag carrier, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), has resumed scheduled service to the airport.
On the other side, while the issue of Afghanistan emerges as a possible field for cooperation, the two countries have still several issues they disagree on.
Ankara and Washington disagree on a number of issues that have further strained bilateral ties, from Turkey’s purchase of Russian S-400 air defense systems to U.S. support for the Syrian branch of the PKK, the YPG, as well as the U.S. refusal to extradite Fetullah Gülen, leader of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ).
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