Taliban delegation visits Ankara to discuss Turkey-Afghan relations

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A high-level delegation led by Amir Khan Muttaqi, the acting foreign minister of the Taliban interim government of Afghanistan, visited Turkey on Thursday for talks with senior Turkish officials.

The delegation boarded a plane from the Qatari capital Doha. At a meeting with Western diplomats in Doha on Tuesday, Muttaqi said weakening the Afghan government would not benefit anyone as it would have negative economic and migration repercussions for the world.

Taliban Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Qahar Balkhi noted that the delegation was invited by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.

“The delegation will meet with senior Turkish officials on issues of common interest,” Balkhi said on Twitter.

This is the first high-level contact between Turkey and the new administration in Afghanistan after the Taliban came to power on August 15.

Balkhi said the two sides will discuss how to improve bilateral relations, trade, humanitarian aid, migration and air transport issues.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Çavuşoğlu said recognizing the Taliban and engaging with them are two different things. He added that Turkey reiterated the need for an inclusive government and expressed its expectations regarding the security of Kabul airport.

“They asked us for humanitarian aid and continued investment there,” Çavuşoğlu also said, adding that the Turkish side once again shared its advice on girls’ education and women’s employment in life. Business.

“The Taliban leaders have said that they will give their best support if they (Afghan migrants) want to return to their country,” he also said.

Meanwhile, Dr. Murat Arslan of Istanbul Sebahattin Zaim University (İZÜ), told Turkish TV channel NTV that Muttaqi’s visit could be seen as one of the Taliban’s efforts to gain recognition, but Turkish officials have stressed the need for an inclusive government.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan recently stressed the importance of an inclusive government in Afghanistan, as he said it was crucial to reach an agreement regarding the operation of Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport.

Turkey has worked with Qatar to reopen the airport in Kabul, the Afghan capital, to international travel. However, repairs are needed before commercial flights can resume.

There are currently two air carriers, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), based in Islamabad, and Kam Air, a private Afghan company, which operates charter flights but at high costs to account for insurance. The Taliban threatened on Thursday to ban airlines unless they cut costs, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid tweeted. The cost of a one-way PIA ticket from Kabul to Islamabad is around $2,500, down from $300 before the Taliban took over in August.

Erdoğan also said during a virtual meeting between the Group of 20 most powerful economies that the international community should keep open the channels of dialogue with the Taliban, to “steer them patiently and gradually” towards the establishment of a more inclusive government.

He said Turkey, which already hosts more than 3.6 million Syrians, cannot sustain an influx of migrants from Afghanistan, warning that European nations would also be hit by a new wave of migrants.

The Taliban say they want international recognition. They warn that the weakening of their government will affect security and trigger an even greater exodus of migration out of the country.

Also, Çavuşoğlu recently said that humanitarian aid will be sent to Afghanistan by land via Pakistan, as it is faster and cheaper.

When asked if there had been any contact with the interim Taliban government in Afghanistan, Çavuşoğlu said: “There is a meeting at the level of ambassadors. We haven’t been there yet, they haven’t They haven’t come. They need humanitarian aid, food, medicine and winter is coming. We talk about these needs.

Taliban officials have previously said they want Turkey to provide aid and support to the Afghan people and called on Turkey to be the first country to officially recognize the new administration in Afghanistan.

NATO member Turkey maintained its embassy in Afghanistan after Western countries withdrew following the Taliban takeover, and urged those countries to step up their engagement. At the same time, he said he would only work fully with the Taliban if they formed a more inclusive administration.

The visit comes a day after Çavuşoğlu told reporters that he and ministers from other countries planned to travel to Kabul for talks with the Taliban.

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