Afghanistan: Turkey says positive messages coming from Taliban

Ankara in contact with the group, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says

Positive messages are coming from the Taliban, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday, emphasising that Turkish troops in Afghanistan are not against the group.

Turkey has 600 soldiers in Afghanistan and is regarded as a major player in the international scramble shaping up in the country as US forces rush to complete their withdrawal.

“We are continuing to be in contact with all parties, including the Taliban,” Mr Cavusoglu said on a trip to Amman.

“We find positive the messages being sent by the Taliban, whether to diplomats, foreigners or to their people,” he said without elaborating.

Mr Cavusoglu said Turkish troops, concentrated in and around Kabul airport, were there to “instil security” as US-supervised evacuations resumed on Tuesday.

The US expects to complete its pull-out from Afghanistan by the end of the month.

Under a withdrawal deal signed in Doha with last year, the Taliban agreed not to let Afghanistan be used for international terrorism operations.

Turkish troops in Afghanistan have been part of a Nato force in Afghanistan since 2015 and is the only Muslim country in the alliance.

Turkish officials said this week that Ankara’s plans to keep forces at the Kabul airport after US troops leave would be difficult to maintain. They highlighted the Taliban’s swift sweep of the capital, most of which fell to the group in the past few days.

“We never sent any oppositional forces to Afghanistan,” Mr Cavusoglu told reporters after meeting Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Al Safadi.

The Taliban last month warned Turkey against keeping forces at the airport.

Asked whether Jordan, a US ally, would establish ties with the Taliban, Mr Al Safadi said “priority is to guarantee security and stability and the rights of (Afghan) citizens”.

“After that anything can be considered,” Mr Al Safadi said.

Updated: August 17th 2021, 3:11 PM