U.S. Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin and his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar held a “constructive and positive” meeting to ensure the secure operation of Hamid Karzai International Airport in Afghanistan, the Turkish Defence Ministry said on Wednesday.
Turkey has offered to police the airport after NATO’s withdrawal from the country on the condition that its allies provide financial, political and logistical support. The airport’s security is seen as key to the safe operation of diplomatic missions in Afghanistan after the withdrawal.
The talks will continue on Thursday, the Turkish Defence Ministry said.
Both sides “reasserted the importance of adequate security” at the airport, the Pentagon said in a statement, without providing details of progress in the talks. The two ministers agreed to speak again in the near future, it said.
Turkey’s offer to provide security at Hamid Karzai comes amid efforts by the two governments to mend relations. Ties have been fractured by differences on regional issues including Syria and Libya and Turkey’s acquisition of air defence missiles from Russia, which has resulted in U.S. sanctions.