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Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu speaks during a press conference in Ankara on April 15, 2021. — AFP pic
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu speaks during a press conference in Ankara on April 15, 2021. — AFP pic

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ANKARA, Sept 2 — Turkey said today it was “evaluating” proposals from the Taliban and others for the safe operation of Kabul’s airport after the Islamist group’s return to power in Afghanistan.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s comments came hours after Qatar said it was working with the Taliban to reopen Kabul’s airport “as soon as possible”.

Turkey has also been involved in the negotiations but has expressed concern over who will organise security for its personnel in the Afghan capital after the US troop withdrawal.

“There are proposals from the Taliban and other countries for cooperating with us. We are considering these proposals,” Cavusoglu told a joint media event with his Dutch counterpart Sigrid Kaag.

“But the most important thing is to insure security inside and outside the airport.”

Qatar and Turkey are close regional allies that have taken the international lead in direct talks with the Taliban in recent weeks.

Turkey was intially negotiating with Washington and the Taliban about providing security for the airport.

But it withdrew its entire contingent of more than 500 non-combat soldiers as Taliban fighters converged on Kabul last month.

Turkey has since said it was open to providing professional and technical services such as baggage handling at the airport to help relaunch civilian flights.

But the Taliban have officially rejected Ankara’s offer to keep Turkish non-combat soldiers ensuring security at the air hub.

“Until today, the Taliban have said that they would like to insure the security themselves,” Cavusoglu said.

“But the security should be insured in a way that gives trust to the international community.”

Cavusoglu added that Turkey was open to the idea of private companies providing security for the air hub.

“It doesn’t have to be done by a state, it can also be done by a company specialising in that,” he said. “There are companies that we are and other countries are working with like that.” — AFP

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