Turkey's Erdogan cautious on new government in Afghanistan

Turkey's foreign minister also warned there should be no rush to recognise the Taliban government

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has given a guarded response to the Cabinet announced by the Taliban. Reuters

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

In his first comments on the Taliban's appointment on Tuesday of Hassan Akhund as leader, Mr Erdogan said he did not know how long the new government's current make-up would last.

"It's hard to call it permanent, but an interim Cabinet has been announced," Mr Erdogan 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 Mevlut Cavusoglu also sounded a cautious note, saying the international community should not rush to recognise the Taliban's legitimacy.

"There is no need to rush," Mr Cavusoglu 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 Pentagon seized in August during the withdrawal of its troops, is in disrepair.

Mr Cavusoglu 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, relocate 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," Mr Cavusoglu 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."

Updated: September 07, 2021, 7:24 PM