U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Turkey is a highly valued partner of the United States in the region as he consulted with allies over evacuation efforts in Afghanistan.
Blinken made the comments on Tuesday after speaking on the telephone with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.
He also held phone calls with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Canadian Foreign Minister Marc Garneau as the U.S. government sought to ensure the safe evacuation of people from Afghanistan.
“Turkey is an important NATO ally and an invaluable partner in the region,” Blinken said.
Çavuşoğlu and Blinken discussed “continuing cooperation” in Afghanistan and efforts “to ensure the safe and orderly evacuation of our citizens, allies and partners”, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency.
Turkey and the United States are seeking to mend bilateral ties frayed by differences over issues including Syria, security in the eastern Mediterranean and the Turkish government’s purchase of S-400 air defence missiles from Russia.
Last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss Afghanistan. The two leaders agreed to strengthen bilateral cooperation in the country, the state-run TRT television reported.
The United States says it will complete a withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan by an Aug. 31 deadline. The Taliban, which seized control just over a week ago, has ruled out an extension.
Turkey is seeking to maintain its deployment of troops at Kabul International Airport following the U.S. withdrawal. The Taliban has rejected the plan saying Turkish soldiers were an occupying power and must leave the country along with other foreign soldiers.