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Erdogan Calls On U.S. To Provide Support As Part Of Offer To Operate Kabul Airport

U.S. President Joe Biden (right) speaks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan prior to a plenary session of a NATO summit at the NATO headquarters in Brussels on June 14.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called on the United States for financial, logistical, and diplomatic support so Turkey can secure and operate Kabul airport after international troops complete their withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Speaking during a trip to northern Cyprus on July 20, Erdogan said that Turkey could carry out the mission, despite warnings from Taliban militants, as long as Washington provides support.

"If these conditions could be met, we are thinking of taking over the management of Kabul airport," he said, listing diplomatic backing for Turkey as well as the U.S. handover of facilities and logistics in Afghanistan as the conditions.

"There will be serious financial and administrative difficulties...(the United States) will give the necessary support to Turkey in this respect as well," he added.

Erdogan's offer to run and guard the airport comes amid a sweeping Taliban offensive across Afghanistan as U.S.-led international forces complete their final withdrawal from the war-torn country by August 31.

Erdogan and U.S. President Joe Biden discussed the airport issue in their first face-to-face meeting on the margins of a NATO summit last month.

Turkey maintains hundreds of troops in Afghanistan but the militants have called Turkey's offer "reprehensible" and warned Ankara against its offer.

Erdogan said on July 20 that the matter "will also be discussed with the Taliban.”

The insurgents had previously negotiated with the United States and “should hold these talks much more comfortably with Turkey,” he added.

The previous day, Erdogan called on the Taliban to "end the occupation" of Afghanistan and that Muslims should make peace with one another.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AP
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