Turkey, Qatar reached preliminary deal on Kabul airport security -Turkish sources

·2 min read
Taliban soldiers stand in front of a sign at the international airport in Kabul

By Tuvan Gumrukcu

ANKARA (Reuters) -Turkey and Qatar have reached agreement on ensuring security at Kabul's main airport should they be awarded the mission amid ongoing talks with the Taliban government, Turkish diplomatic sources said on Thursday.

Kabul's international airport is landlocked Afghanistan's main air link to the world. Following the August takeover of Afghanistan by the hardline Islamist Taliban, Turkey has said it would be open to operating it with Qatar but only if its security demands are met.

Reuters has reported that the United Arab Emirates also held talks with the Taliban to keep the airport operational.

The sources told reporters on Thursday that Ankara and Doha had agreed on a security framework for the airport mission, but added talks continued on other aspects such as financing.

"It is expected for the Taliban to ensure security outside, and for whoever runs the airport to ensure it inside," one of the sources said. "The process is continuing constructively," the person said on condition of anonymity.

They added that a delegation of Turkish and Qatari officials were holding talks on the issue in Kabul this week.

Qatar's state news agency said the Taliban government will be in Doha next week to complete discussions with Qatar and Turkey over the operation and management of the airport.

It added that delegations from Qatar and Turkey have held two days of "intense negotiations" in Kabul this week over control of the airport.

Qatar - which helped run the airport along with Turkey after playing a major role in evacuation efforts following the chaotic U.S. withdrawal in August - say that Ankara, Doha, and the Taliban have agreed that discussions are going to be completed next week.

Qatar's role at the Kabul airport has ensured that flights have operated between Doha and Kabul since September, allowing Qatar to become a hub for countries to maintain links to Afghanistan and to meet the Taliban government. The United States, United Kingdom, Canada and several other countries have moved their Afghanistan embassies to Qatar.

On Wednesday, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey was sending 700 tonnes of emergency aid and supplies to Afghanistan, without providing a date.

(Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Additional reporting by Andrew Mills in Doha; Editing by Jonathan Spicer and Dominic Evans)

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