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US, Turkey agree on post-pullout Afghan mission

AT Monitoring Desk

KABUL: U.S. President Joe Biden and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed in a meeting this week that Turkey would take responsible role in securing Kabul’s airport after the U.S. and NATO allied forces leave Afghanistan, a top U.S. official said.

The U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters that Biden and Erdogan, in their meeting at the NATO summit, had discussed the Afghanistan issue. Erdogan sought certain forms of U.S. support to secure the airport, and Biden committed to providing that support, Sullivan said. 

“The clear commitment from the leaders was established that Turkey would play a lead role in securing Hamid Karzai International Airport, and we are now working through how to execute to get to that,” Sullivan said, giving the first details from the U.S. side of the meeting, for which the Turkish presidency has not provided details. 

Talking in the sideline of the NATO summit, Erdogan said that Turkey sought to involve Pakistan and Hungary’s involvement in new mission.

His remarks triggered criticism among the Afghans as the Afghanistan and Pakistan- the two neighboring countries are not enjoying sound ties.

However, a spokesman for the ministry of foreign affairs told Duvar English that Erdogan’s remark has been misinterpreted.

The leaders sounded upbeat after their meeting, although they did not announce what concrete progress they made. One potential area of cooperation has been Afghanistan, where Ankara has offered to guard and operate the Kabul airport after U.S. and NATO forces withdraw in coming weeks. 

The security of the airport is crucial for the operation of diplomatic missions out of Afghanistan as Western forces pull out. 

Last week, a Taliban spokesman said Turkey should withdraw its troops from Afghanistan under the 2020 deal for the pullout of U.S. forces, but Sullivan said the Taliban comments did not deter the “detailed and effective” security plan the United States was putting together. 

“Obviously we take seriously the concern that Taliban or other elements in Afghanistan will attack the Western or the international presence. … We do not believe that what the Taliban has said publicly should or will deter the efforts under way right now to establish that security presence,” he said. 

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