Turkish authorities working to set talks with Taliban: President Erdogan

Turkish leader says he may meet Taliban leadership

ISTANBUL / ANKARA (AA) – The Turkish authorities are working to set talks with the Taliban, Turkey’s president said on Wednesday.

“Turkey’s relevant institutions are currently working until we have some talks with the Taliban. Maybe even I can be in a position to receive the person who will be their leader,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan said during a joint TV interview broadcast live on CNN Turk and Kanal D.

Erdogan said that he earlier spoke with the Qatari leader and they discussed “where can we stop the steps taken by the Taliban and where can we take a step towards peace.”

If the Taliban is not taken under control, “it will not be possible for us to achieve peace in Afghanistan,” he asserted.

Violence has escalated across Afghanistan as US-led foreign forces have almost withdrawn following 20 years of military operations.

The Taliban have rapidly captured several smaller administrative districts, and are now targeting towns and cities. They have captured nine provincial capitals from government forces in six days.

US President Joe Biden said on Tuesday he did not regret his decision to pull US troops from Afghanistan.

Biden maintained that his plans to exit militarily have not changed despite the group’s battlefield successes, emphasizing that Afghanistan’s leaders must come together to “fight for themselves, fight for their nation.”

Irregular migrants from Afghanistan

Drawing to irregular migrants from Afghanistan, Erdogan said that Turkey is raising walls along borders with both Iran and Iraq. “The walls rising there are to prevent these irregular migrants from entering our country.”

A significant part of the irregular migrants held are deported to Afghanistan by Turkish institutions, he added.

Erdogan stressed that Turkey is not a place where anyone frequently stops by. “We evaluate all these and we take our steps accordingly.”

The Turkish president also denied that there was a flow of irregular migrants across Turkey’s borders, as it is “exaggerated on social media.”

Turkey has been a key transit point for irregular migrants who want to cross into Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution.

Forest fires

Dubbing the helicopters “the most important aircraft in firefighting” in Turkey, Erdogan said the number of those helicopters has increased from 18 in 2002 to 39 in 2021 — referring to AK Party’s ongoing term in power — and approached 60 during the recent wildfires across Turkey.

“Turkey ranked 46th in the world in 2015 among the countries that increased its forest assets, and rose to 27th place in 2020,” he said.

Erdogan said Turkey will “probably buy itself a plane for firefighting,” and will have made the team and fleet “much stronger” in battling fires.

“Our burning forests will rise from their ashes. These areas will be afforested in the most efficient way and become forests again,” the president wowed.

He also underlined that Turkey’s government-backed housing agency TOKI will start construction in a month in areas affected by the forest fires, and the goal is to finish these constructions within a year.

The Turkish leader also slammed those who are trying to smear the country’s firefighting efforts with false information and news, saying that it is a “manipulation.”

“I believe that with the opening of the parliament, a work on social media should be done,” he said, also adding that no digital medium “is exempt from the law.”

Erdogan also thanked all countries for extending a helping hand to Turkey during the wildfires.

As many as 285 forest fires in Turkey have been brought under control while three continue to burn in the Aegean province of Mugla, the resort city of Antalya and southwestern Burdur province, according to the country’s agriculture and forestry minister.


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