Turkey's Defense Minister Hulusi Akar discussed the security of Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport with his Afghan counterpart in a phone call on Friday, according to Turkish authorities.
In a statement, the Turkish National Defense Ministry said Hulusi Akar and his Afghan counterpart Bismillah Khan Mohammadi also addressed regional security and bilateral relations.
"In the phone call, Akar stated that Turkey and Afghanistan have displayed solidarity in the face of the difficulties both countries have faced throughout history," the statement said.
It added that Turkey has been carrying out its activities for the peace and welfare of its Afghan brothers for a long time.
Turkey will continue to stand by the Afghan people as long as they want, the statement noted, adding that it is important to keep the peace process alive in Afghanistan.
Ankara has been running the military and logistic operations of the Kabul airport for six years as part of the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said recently that Turkey is considering operating the major Kabul airport after the U.S.-led pullout. He also said that Ankara is ready to discuss the peace process with the Taliban, adding that the group must stop the occupation.
The U.S.-led military coalition has been in Afghanistan for nearly two decades following an invasion launched in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
After nearly four decades of fighting, fears are growing that Afghan forces will be overwhelmed without vital coalition air support, allowing for a complete Taliban military takeover or the start of a multisided civil war in a country awash with weapons.
Turkey, whose forces in Afghanistan have always been comprised of noncombatant troops, has offered to guard and run Kabul’s airport after the NATO troops’ withdrawal. Ankara has been holding talks with Washington 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.
The airport is in a strategic location close to the Afghan presidential palace and foreign diplomatic missions in Kabul and is the only place from which to evacuate diplomats in emergency situations.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry has called for a fair burden-sharing of the task given that the “uninterrupted, safe operation of the airport is indispensable for the continued presence of diplomatic missions in Afghanistan.”
At the end of a series of meetings with NATO leaders on the sidelines of the alliance summit in June, Erdoğan stated that Turkey was seeking Pakistani and Hungarian involvement in the mission in Afghanistan following the departure of the U.S.-led NATO force.
However, the Taliban have opposed Ankara’s proposal, saying that Turkey should also withdraw its troops in line with the 2020 deal for the pullout.
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