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Turkey Says Talks Still Ongoing With Taliban On Operating Kabul Airport

A Taliban fighter stands guard at the international airport in Kabul. (file photo)

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on March 13 that negotiations with the Taliban on operating the Kabul airport were still ongoing, while a Taliban minister said an agreement was “near.”

Cavusoglu made the comments a day after he met with the Taliban’s acting foreign minister, Amir Khan Muttaqi, in southern Turkey.

Turkey managed and protected Kabul’s Hamid Karzai international airport for six years until U.S. and other NATO forces left Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover in August 2021.

Turkey has long expressed a willingness to continue to run the airport jointly with Qatar, but only if their security demands are met.

Turkey is a close ally of Qatar, which has long been a key player in mediating talks with the Taliban and hosted the hard-line group’s office long before it took power in Kabul.

Meanwhile, the Taliban’s acting minister of information and culture, Khairullah Khairkhwa, told Turkey’s Daily Sabah that an agreement with Doha and Ankara was close.

“Turkey and Qatar and the Afghan government have been nearing an agreement, so hopefully it will be finalized in the near future,” he said.

It was reported in November that the United Arab Emirates had held talks with the Taliban-led government to run the airport.

Khairkhwa, however, said that “the priority and the preference is Turkey and Qatar” to jointly operate the airport.

Based on reporting by Reuters and Tolonews