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Turkey’s Erdoğan cool to Taliban securing Kabul airport

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President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sunday poured cold water on a plan in which Turkey operates Kabul airport and the Taliban provide security, saying Ankara would be in a tough position if another attack occurs, Agence France-Presse reported.

Turkey had long planned to help secure and run the Afghan capital’s airport but appeared to drop the idea when it started Wednesday to withdraw its approximately 500 non-combat troops from Afghanistan.

Erdoğan on Friday said Turkey had had its first talks with the Taliban in Kabul, adding that Ankara was still assessing the Islamist group’s offer for Turkey to run the airport’s logistics.

“What does the Taliban say with regard to the airport issue? They say, ‘Give us the security but you operate it’,” Erdoğan said in comments published by the official Anadolu news agency and other media outlets.

“How come we hand the security over to you?” Erdoğan added.

“Let’s say you take over the security, but how would we explain to the world if another bloodbath takes place there? It’s not an easy job.”

More than 100 people died in a suicide attack on Thursday outside the Kabul airport, including 13 US service members, slowing down the airlift ahead of US President Joe Biden’s deadline for evacuations to end by Tuesday.

Fresh terror attack warnings have rattled evacuation efforts overseen by US forces, and Biden has warned another attack on the frantic airlift was “highly likely.”

Turkey has completed its evacuation operation while moving its embassy from the airport back to its original compound, Erdoğan said.

“We are planning right now to maintain our diplomatic presence,” he said but added that plans were constantly being updated depending on the security situation.

“We keep ready all our necessary alternative plans. Our priority is the safety of our personnel.”

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