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Turkey Says It Won't Recognize Taliban Rule In Afghanistan

Amir Khan Muttaqi (file photo)

Turkey says it is prepared to help the Taliban overcome a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, but will not formally recognize Taliban rule in the war-torn country.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu made the remarks on October 14 as he hosted the foreign minister of Afghanistan's Taliban-led government, Amir Khan Muttaqi.

Cavusoglu told reporters that engaging in talks with the Taliban is not same as recognizing the hard-line Islamist group as the country's legitimate government.

"Afghanistan's economy should not collapse," Cavusoglue said. "That is why countries which have frozen Afghanistan's assets abroad should be more flexible so that salaries can be paid."

The Taliban's self-appointed government is trying to gain legitimacy through international recognition after seizing power in August by ousting Afghanistan's internationally backed government.

The war-torn country's economy is in free fall with most aid cut off as winter nears, food prices rising, and unemployment spiking.

Muttaqi arrived in Ankara after talks with U.S. and European diplomats in Qatar where he warned that Western sanctions on the Taliban threaten to further undermine security in Afghanistan.

Muttaqi said in Turkey that a freeze on Afghanistan's assets held in other countries is contributing to an economic crisis that could lead to fresh waves of refugees leaving Afghanistan.

A Taliban spokesman said earlier that Muttaqi and other ministers would discuss humanitarian aid, migration, air transport, and trade with Turkish officials in Ankara.

As the Taliban delegation was arriving in Turkey on October 14, Russia's Foreign Ministry announced that it is expecting a visit by Taliban delegates next week.

The Moscow talks on Afghanistan also are expected to involve representatives from China, Pakistan, India, and Iran.

NATO member Turkey kept its embassy in Afghanistan open after Western countries withdrew following the Taliban takeover. Ankara has been working with Qatar to help operate Kabul's main airport and re-open it to international travel.

Only two airline carriers -- Islamabad-based Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and Afghanistan's privately-owned Kam Air -- currently operate chartered flights. They operate at high costs due to insurance payments.

The cost of a one-way PIA ticket from Kabul to Islamabad is now about $2,500, up from $300 before the Taliban seized power in August.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at a virtual meeting of the Group of 20 most powerful economies that the international community should keep the channels of dialogue with the Taliban open, to “patiently and gradually steer” them toward establishing a more inclusive government.

Erdogan said Turkey, which already hosts more than 3.6 million Syrians, cannot bear an influx of migrants from Afghanistan, warning that European nations would also be affected by a new wave of migrants.

Muttaqi's visit to Turkey comes a day after Cavusoglu told reporters that he and ministers from other countries plan to visit Kabul for talks with the Taliban.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, and AFP
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