Too early to say anything on airport plan as new situation emerges in Afghanistan: Top Turkish diplomat

Turkey is evaluating new situation before taking any decision on its future role at Kabul airport, says Mevlut Cavusoglu

ANKARA (AA) – The conditions in Afghanistan have changed and Turkey is evaluating the new situation before taking any decision on its future role at the Kabul airport, the Turkish foreign minister said on Wednesday.

Speaking to daily Hurriyet, Mevlut Cavusoglu said it is too early to discuss whether Turkey has canceled its plans to continue to protect and operate the airport.

Noting that Turkey is “on the military wing of Kabul Airport,” Cavusoglu said: “On the civilian wing, there is chaos. There was also a problem with the landing and take-offs of the planes. Unfortunately, some people also died. We are very sad.”

Cavusoglu said that evacuations are ongoing from the airport, adding “We have brought back a group of our citizens.”

Turkey works with other countries, especially the US, on evacuation and other issues at the airport, said Cavusoglu, adding that priority is to evacuate the rest of the Turkish citizens who want to return.

“Right now, our priority is different. We will make the decision about our soldiers together under the leadership of our President (Recep Tayyip Erdogan),” he added.

On Wednesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that over 500 Turkish citizens have been evacuated from Afghanistan.

Afghan politicians, Taliban negotiating

Cavusoglu said that Afghanistan’s top peace negotiator Abdullah Abdullah, former President Hamid Karzai, and veteran politician Gulbuddin Hekmatyar are negotiating with the Taliban.

“We hope that they can reach an agreement among themselves by peaceful means,” he said.

The minister said, Turkey, like all other countries including the US, is willing to establish contact with the Taliban in a bid to protect its interests.

“It does not mean that we approve their rule or ideology. China, Russia, Iran are all negotiating with the Taliban. Everyone is being pragmatic,” he added.

Noting that he welcomed the Taliban’s announcement that they would not attack embassies, diplomatic missions, and foreigners in the country, Cavusoglu said: “They have not intervened in the operations of the airport. We said that we welcome these announcements.”

“We also said, ‘we welcome their messages,’ but we said that we are cautious, that is, we should see them in practice,” he added.

On Tuesday, Cavusoglu said that Turkey was in dialogue with all sides in Afghanistan, including the Taliban.

“We would like to say that we welcome the messages given by the Taliban so far,” he told reporters during a joint press conference with his Jordanian counterpart Ayman al-Safadi in the capital Amman.

‘Unplanned’ US withdrawal

According to the Turkish minister, the US withdrawal from Afghanistan was “unplanned.”

“I also told this to US Secretary of State (Antony) Blinken.”

Referring to US President Joe Biden’s press conference on Monday in which he defended his decision to withdraw all American forces from Afghanistan, Cavusoglu said: “Biden tried to defend himself, but they stay for 20 years, and suddenly leave without an exit plan.”

“They made the same mistake in Iraq,” he added.

Cavusoglu said the “sudden and unplanned” US withdrawal from Afghanistan left chaos behind.

Biden had said that the US gave Afghans “every chance to determine their own future.”

“We could not provide them with the will to fight for that future,” the president said at the White House.

On rights of women and children in Afghanistan, Cavusoglu said that Turkey has always been “sensitive” about this issue.

“We want women to freely exercise all their rights in Afghanistan,” he added.

As part of a peace deal reached in February 2020 between the US and the Taliban, this year international forces began their withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The agreement mandated that the Taliban not target foreign forces, but there was no provision on its action towards Afghan security forces.

While keeping negotiations with the government going in Doha, Qatar, the Taliban intensified its attacks since June, taking control of many districts and provincial centers in the past month.

The Taliban on Sunday took the capital Kabul, with President Ashraf Ghani and other key officials fleeing the country.


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