Turkey will not send additional troops to Afghanistan as part of a plan to run and secure Kabul’s airport following the U.S. and NATO pull-out from the country, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar was cited as saying on June 23.
Turkey has offered to guard and run Hamid Karzai airport after NATO’s withdrawal and has been holding talks with allies, namely the United States, on logistic and financial support for the mission.
A U.S. delegation will hold talks on the matter in Ankara on June 24, Turkey’s defence ministry said.
“We already have a presence there,” Akar was cited as saying by state broadcaster TRT Haber, referring to some 500 troops in Afghanistan as part of NATO’s Resolute Support Mission. “What is essential is the continuation of our presence at the airport,” he said, adding talks were still underway.
The world has been anxiously watching Afghanistan since U.S. President Joe Biden announced that all American forces would withdraw from the war-torn country by Sept. 11, with NATO allies to follow suit.
Biden and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan discussed the issue at last week’s NATO leaders’ summit in Brussels.
Ankara has been running the military and logistics operations of the Kabul airport for six years as part of the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission.
Turkey, whose forces in Afghanistan have always been noncombatant troops, has reportedly offered to guard the airport, as questions remain on how security will be assured along major transport routes and at the airport, which is the main gateway to the capital.
Hurriyet Daily News