Istanbul: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that Turkey had held the first meeting with the Taliban in Kabul, adding that Ankara was still evaluating the Islamic organization’s proposal to operate the airport in the capital of Afghanistan.
The Turkish leader said that the talks were held in the military zone of Kabul Airport where the Turkish Embassy is temporarily stationed.
“We have held our first talks with the Taliban, which lasted 3.5 hours,” Erdogan told reporters. “If necessary, we will have the opportunity to hold such talks again.”
Responding to domestic criticism over Turkey’s engagement with the insurgent group, Erdogan said Ankara had “no luxury” to stand idly by in the volatile region.
“You cannot know what their expectations are or what our expectations are without talking. What’s diplomacy, my friend? This is diplomacy,” Erdogan said.
Turkey has always planned to help protect and operate the strategic airport in Kabul, but on Wednesday, it began to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan-a clear sign that Ankara has abandoned this goal.
Erdogan said that the Taliban now want to supervise the safety of the airport, while giving Ankara the option of operating its logistics.
But he said that in the last few days of the emergency evacuation work on Thursday, the suicide bombing outside the airport killed at least 85 people, including 13 US troops, which showed the importance of knowing the details of how to protect the aviation hub.
“They said: ‘We will ensure the security, you operate (the airport’. We have not made any decision on this issue yet,” Erdogan said.
“We will make a decision once calm prevails.”