Erdoğan cautious on new Afghan government

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday gave a guarded response to the new Afghan government announced by the Taliban, saying he would closely follow its future course, Agence France-Presse reported.

In his first comments on the Taliban’s appointment on Tuesday of Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund as leader, Erdoğan said he did not know how long the new government’s current makeup would last.

“As you know just now, it’s hard to call it permanent, but an interim cabinet has been announced,” Erdoğan told reporters during a joint media appearance with visiting DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi.

“We do not know how long this temporary cabinet will last. Our duty now is to follow this process carefully.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu also sounded a cautious note, saying the international community should not rush into recognizing the Taliban’s legitimacy.

“There is no need to rush,” Çavuşoğlu said. “This is our advice to the entire world. We should act together with the international community.”

Turkey has been holding regular talks with the Taliban in Kabul, where it still has a diplomatic presence, about the conditions under which it could help operate the Afghan capital’s airport.

US officials say they no longer control the airspace in Afghanistan and that the main airport in Kabul, which the US military seized in August for evacuations, is in disrepair.

Çavuşoğlu said Turkey was working with Qatar and the US on the terms under which the airport could reopen to regular flights needed to deliver humanitarian aid, evacuate stranded civilians and re-establish diplomatic missions in Kabul.

But he said security remained a key sticking point, stressing that commercial flights could never resume until airlines — and their insurers — felt that conditions were sufficiently safe.

“In my view, the Taliban or Afghan forces could ensure security outside the airport,” Çavuşoğlu said.

“But inside, there could be a security company trusted by the international community or all other companies,” he said.

“Even if airlines, including Turkish Airlines, are keen to fly there, insurance companies would not allow it.”

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