Turkey and Qatar 1st choice for Kabul airport, according to the Taliban

After months of negotiations over the operation of Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport after the Taliban took over the country, the interim government has said a deal with Turkey and Qatar is expected soon.

Speaking to Daily Sabah, Khairullah Khairkhwa, the Taliban’s acting culture and information minister, said: “Turkey, Qatar and the Afghan government are close to reaching an agreement, so I hope that it will be finalized in the near future”.

Asked about the negotiations on the operation of Kabul airport with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), he indicated that currently Doha and Ankara together is the first choice.

“The priority and preference are Turkey and Qatar,” he said, stressing that only if there was a problem would another country be considered.

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu previously indicated that Turkey, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates could also potentially operate the airport trilaterally.

Responding to Daily Sabah’s question during a press conference to assess the year 2021, Çavuşoğlu said: “Before the Taliban took over, we were running the military wing of Kabul airport as part of from NATO. The civil part was run by a company from the United Arab Emirates.”

Turkey has worked with Qatar to reopen the airport in the Afghan capital for international travel.

After the Taliban took control of the country, Turkey offered technical and security assistance to operationalize Kabul airport. Keeping the airport open after foreign forces hand over control is essential to keeping Afghanistan connected to the world and maintaining an uninterrupted supply of aid to distribute.

The Turkish government has taken a pragmatic approach to recent events in Afghanistan. Stressing that new realities have emerged in Afghanistan, Ankara said it would move forward accordingly while keeping communication open with all relevant leaders.

NATO member Turkey maintained its embassy in Afghanistan after Western countries withdrew following the Taliban takeover and urged those countries to step up their engagement. At the same time, he said he would only work fully with the Taliban if they formed a more inclusive administration.

Within 10 days in August, the Taliban had announced their control of most of Afghanistan alongside the withdrawal of the United States from the country after 20 years of military presence. Shortly after the forces withdrew, technical teams from Turkey and Qatar began work to restore the airport to operational standards.

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