Turkish and Qatari officials are traveling to Afghanistan to present plans to Taliban leaders for companies from their countries to run Kabul’s international airport, as the global community looks for ways to get desperately needed humanitarian aid to the country.
The delegation is scheduled to arrive on December 23 following meetings in Doha this week to coordinate details, Turkey’s Anadolu Agency reported.
Afghanistan’s interim government has yet to agree to the plan to run the airport, the report said.
Turkey helped manage and protect Kabul’s airport for six years prior to the pullout of U.S. and other Western forces from Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover in mid-August.
Turkey has said it is prepared to run the airport under Taliban rule.
Turkey, a NATO nation, has long had ties with Afghanistan, while Qatar served as a site for yearslong talks between U.S. officials and Taliban representatives prior to the Islamist group’s return to power in war-ravaged Afghanistan.
In late November, the European Union said the Taliban had asked for help in keeping Afghanistan's airports running in talks in Qatar with EU officials.
In the meeting, the EU officials and Taliban representatives “expressed grave concern about the worsening humanitarian situation in Afghanistan as winter is arriving,” a statement said.
The sides “underlined the fundamental importance of keeping Afghan airports open” to facilitate the safe passage of Afghans and foreign nationals who wish to leave Afghanistan, it said.
“In this regard, both sides underlined the fundamental importance of keeping Afghan airports open, and the Afghan delegation requested assistance for maintaining operations of airports.”
The airport is also the main route for those wishing to flee Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover.
The United States and its allies evacuated tens of thousands of at-risk Afghans, but thousands more people want to leave the war-torn country, with those who worked closely with Western militaries seen to be in particular danger from potential Taliban retaliation.