We can run all airports in Afghanistan with Qatar, Turkish FM says

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Turkey is ready to take on the operation of all airports in Afghanistan in cooperation with Qatar under “suitable conditions,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Monday. 

His remarks came at a news conference in Ankara following a meeting with his visiting Malaysian counterpart, Saifuddin Abdullah.

Referring to a meeting he had with Afghanistan’s acting foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi on Sunday as “correctly timed,” Çavuşoğlu said Turkish experts would be flying to Doha this evening to discuss the operation of Kabul Airport. He said a Turkish company had signed five agreements with a Qatari firm for the running of five airports in Afghanistan.

“We will make a joint proposal to the Afghan administration. We may run the operations not only of Kabul Airport but also of other airports in the country if conditions are suitable,” he said.

Turkey has frequently voiced its desire to run Kabul Airport, and Çavuşoğlu earlier this month said Turkey was going to cooperate with Qatar towards that end.

“Qatar and Turkey are continuously working with the interim government in Afghanistan to reach an agreement to open the airport [so it can function] normally,” Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani had said during a joint press briefing with Çavuşoğlu ahead of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit earlier this month.

Referring to a recent move towards normalization of ties with Armenia, Çavuşoğlu stressed that Turkey “has taken steps to build confidence for stability in the region,” adding that Turkey and Armenia had appointed special envoys to kick off direct talks, which were expected to “happen soon.”

Çavuşoğlu said they had received requests from some airlines to launch flights between İstanbul and Yerevan and that it was being discussed both in Turkey and Armenia.

“Some airlines will start flights in the coming days,” he said.

Turkey last Wednesday named a former ambassador as special envoy to work on the normalization of ties with Armenia.

Armenia and Turkey have never established formal diplomatic ties, and the border between the two countries has been closed since the 1990s.

The relations are particularly tense over the World War I-era mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, which Yerevan says amounted to a genocide.

Çavuşoğlu reminded that Turkey took steps to normalize ties in consultation with Azerbaijan, adding: “Our desire is to ensure that stability and peace are strongly established in the South Caucasus and also to implement rail and highway projects, including the Zangezur corridor, which will connect the countries and contribute significantly to economic development.”

Turkey’s ties with Armenia were further strained after Ankara supported Azerbaijan, which last year fought a war with Armenia for control of the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

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