The United States said negotiations with Turkey on the future of Afghanistan are continuing.
Ned Price, spokesman for the U.S. State Department, declined to confirm whether Washington and Ankara had reached a deal for Turkey to provide security at Kabul international airport. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Turkey had agreed to do so in a statement last week.
Instead, Price emphasised that talks with NATO member Turkey were focused on wider issues.
“Well, what I can say is that we have had discussions with our Turkish partners in the context of broader cooperation in Afghanistan. Those discussions are ongoing,” Price told reporters at a briefing in Washington on Monday. “We don’t have anything to announce today.”
During talks with U.S. President Joe Biden at a NATO summit in June, Erdoğan offered to provide security at Hamid Karzai International Airport to ensure the safe exit from the country of foreign diplomats.
Turkey is seeking to repair fractured ties with the United States and NATO, undermined by Ankara’s purchase of Russian S-400 air defence missiles and differences over policy towards Syria and Libya. But its ambitions in the region, including military deployments in Syria, Iraq and Libya, its alignment with Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood and a spat with Greece over territory in the Mediterranean, often conflict with Western interests.
Price also declined to say whether any U.S. military personnel assigned to airport security in Kabul would be rebranded as diplomats and given diplomatic passports.
“We certainly welcome Turkey’s constructive role when it comes to the withdrawal and the broader safety and security situation in Afghanistan, also with support for the diplomatic process,” Price said. “When it comes to U.S. personnel on the ground, I would need to refer you to DOD for details of that.”
On Monday, the Taliban, which has taken significant territory from Afghani government forces over the past month, repeated a warning to Turkey to refrain from keeping troops in Afghanistan, saying it would be treated as an occupying power. U.S. and NATO soldiers are due to complete their withdrawal from Afghanistan next month.
““We have lots of commonalities with Turkey… And they are Muslim, but if they intervene and keep its troops, then it will bear the responsibility,” Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban, told Arab News.
Turkey has been negotiating the political and financial aspects of keeping troops at Kabul airport with the United States.
(This story was updated with Taliban statement in the 10th paragraph.)