Erdogan calls for US funding to support Kabul airport mission


FILE PHOTO: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan speaks at a ceremony marking the fifth anniversary of the failed coup attempt, in Ankara, Turkey, July 15, 2021. Presidential Press Office / Document via REUTERS reuters_tickers

This content was published on July 20, 2021 – 07:21

NICOSIA (Reuters) – President Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday called on the United States to fulfill “conditions”, including financial, logistical and diplomatic support, so that Turkey can manage and keep Kabul airport after the withdrawal of other foreign troops from Afghanistan.

Turkey has offered to deploy troops to the airport after NATO’s full withdrawal and has been in talks with the United States for several weeks.

The Taliban, who have gained territory as US-led foreign forces withdraw, have warned Turkey against this.

Erdogan, speaking in northern Cyprus, acknowledged that the Taliban had reservations but said Turkey would carry out the mission nonetheless as long as the United States, a NATO partner, met three specific Turkish demands.

“If these conditions could be met, we plan to take over the management of the Kabul airport,” he said, listing diplomatic support for Turkey as well as the United States handing over the facilities and equipment. logistics in Afghanistan.

“There will be serious financial and administrative difficulties … (the United States) will provide the necessary support to Turkey in this regard as well,” Erdogan added, after attending morning prayers during the Muslim holiday of the Eid al-Adha.

Turkey hopes the airport mission will help ease U.S. relations which are strained on several fronts, including its purchase of Russian S-400 missile defenses.

The Taliban ruled Afghanistan with an iron fist from 1996-2001 and fought for 20 years to expel foreign forces, overthrow the West-backed government in Kabul, and re-impose the Islamic regime.

The Taliban, emboldened by the departure of foreign forces by a September target, called Turkey’s plan reprehensible. Ankara and others have said the airport must remain open to preserve diplomatic missions there.

Before leaving for Cyprus on Monday, Erdogan said the Taliban should “end the occupation”. On Tuesday, he said the Turkey-Taliban talks would overcome any problems and should be more comfortable than previous US-Taliban talks.

As part of his visit, Erdogan unveiled his plan to build a new government complex for Turkish Cypriots as part of a two-state plan opposed by the European Union, Greece and the internationally recognized Greek Cypriot government. .

(Reporting by Yesim Dikmen and Michele Kambas; writing by Jonathan Spicer; editing by Robert Birsel)


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