Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu insisted Afghanistan should agree an inclusive unity government during talks with the Taliban, Hurriyet Daily News reported on Friday.
“We once again explained the importance of including people from all ethnic and religious groups, besides the Taliban, in the administration. Especially in these difficult times, this is important in terms of establishing unity and solidarity within the country,” Çavuşoğlu told a press conference after meeting Afghanistan’s acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi in Ankara.
Muttaqi headed a Taliban delegation that arrived in Turkey on Thursday to discuss ties and future cooperation. The Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan for the first time in 20 years following the withdrawal of U.S-led forces from the war-torn country in August.
Çavuşoğlu said the Taliban had agreed to help ensure the return of Afghan refugees from Turkey and implement measures to limit future migration.
The Taliban had also given assurances that all women in Afghanistan had been allowed to return to work and education, the Turkish foreign minister said, noting that Turkey’s Maarif Foundation operates 14 girls’ schools in the country.
Turkey has sought to proactively engage the Taliban government but has as yet stopped short of formally recognising the new administration.
“We’ve been explaining to the international community the importance of engaging with the current Taliban administration,” Çavuşoğlu said.
The Turkish foreign minister was joined in the talks by senior officials from the defence ministry, interior ministry, and National Intelligence Organisation (MİT).
Raising the security threat facing Afghanistan, Çavuşoğlu said that “any gaps left” could enable terrorist attacks, as demonstrated by the Islamic State attack on Kabul’s international airport on August 26.
Turkey has offered to assume security at the airport, seen as crucial to allowing access by international diplomats and aid organisations. But the Taliban have repeatedly refused to accept the proposal.
“Today, we once again told (the Taliban) about our security expectations for the operation of airports, especially for the start of regular flights, that is, not only our expectations but also the expectations of the entire international civil aviation community,” Çavuşoğlu said.