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Turkey offers to run Kabul airport, but puts conditions in place

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(Last Updated On: June 8, 2021)

Turkey has offered to guard and run Kabul’s airport after the United States and other NATO forces withdraw from Afghanistan, but U.S. officials say Ankara is imposing conditions which need to be resolved as their leaders prepare to meet next week, Reuters reported.

Turkish officials say Ankara made the proposal at a NATO meeting in May when the United States and its partners agreed a plan to withdraw troops by September 11 after 20 years of war trying to defeat Taliban forces.

Turkish and U.S. officials have discussed possible requirements for the mission, some of which Washington has agreed to address, one Turkish official said.

“Following the United States’ decision to withdraw from Afghanistan, Turkey has made an offer to ensure the security of Kabul airport. In this framework, there are talks underway with NATO and the United States,” the Turkish official said.

A Turkish role securing the airport for international flights could help improve ties between Ankara and the West, sorely strained by Turkey’s purchase of Russian defence systems and disputes with European countries over drilling rights in east Mediterranean waters, Reuters reported.

Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said on Monday that Ankara’s offer was contingent on backup from those allies.

“We intend to stay in Afghanistan depending on conditions. What are our conditions? Political, financial and logistical support. If these are met, we can remain at Hamid Karzai International Airport,” his ministry quoted Akar as saying.

U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they welcomed the Turkish proposal but that Ankara was asking for too many U.S. “enablers” for the mission, Reuters reported.

The officials also cited some U.S. concern about Turkey’s reliability, given their other disagreements, but said Washington would find a way to make it work.

NATO leaders will discuss Afghanistan at a summit next Monday, where Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan will meet Joe Biden for the first time since the U.S. president took office.

Securing Kabul airport could help persuade some countries to maintain a diplomatic presence in Afghanistan. Last month Australia shut its embassy there due to security concerns.

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Four polio vaccinators killed, four wounded in Nangarhar

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(Last Updated On: June 15, 2021)

Four polio vaccinators were killed and four others wounded in four separate attacks by unknown gunmen in Nangarhar province on Tuesday morning, confirmed local officials.

Officials said one vaccinator was killed and another wounded at 7:30am in Chamtala area of Khoqyani district on Tuesday.

According to the officials one other vaccinator was killed and one wounded at 8:30 am in another attack in PD3 of Jalalabad city on Tuesday.

One volunteer vaccinator was killed and one wounded in a third attack in Khoqyani district of the province.

In the fourth attack one volunteer vaccinator was killed and one wounded in Sra-Road district of the province.

Attaullah Khoqyani, spokesman for Nangarhar governor confirmed that vaccinators were attacked in several areas but he did not provide details.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks so far.

This comes after at least three members of a polio vaccination team, all of them women, were shot dead by unknown gunmen in Nangarhar province in March, local officials said.

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NATO to provide provisional funding to help run Kabul airport

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(Last Updated On: June 14, 2021)

NATO has not yet decided on who would run the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul once foreign troops have withdrawn, the organization’s secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said Monday night. 

Stoltenberg said however that Turkey would play a “key role” in running the airport and that NATO is committed to providing transitional funding for the key facility. 

This comes after Turkey offered to run and guard the airport after the withdrawal of troops. 

However, the Taliban issued a warning and said such a move would be a “mistake” and that any country doing so would be considered invaders. 

“The presence of foreign forces under whatever name or by whichever country in our homeland is unacceptable for the Afghan people and the Islamic Emirate (Taliban),” the group cautioned in a statement.

The Taliban insisted that the security of airports, foreign embassies, and diplomatic offices is the responsibility of Afghans, saying that “no one should hold out hope of keeping military or security presence” in Afghanistan.   

In a communique issued by the Heads of State and Government participating in the NATO Summit, it was stated that NATO will retain a Senior Civilian Representative’s Office in Kabul to continue diplomatic engagement and enhance its partnership with Afghanistan.

“Recognising its importance to an enduring diplomatic and international presence, as well as to Afghanistan’s connectivity with the world, NATO will provide transitional funding to ensure the continued functioning of Hamid Karzai International Airport,” the communique read.  

“We will also step up dialogue on Afghanistan with relevant international and regional partners. We continue to support the ongoing Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process, and call on all stakeholders to help Afghanistan foster a lasting inclusive political settlement that puts an end to violence; safeguards the human rights of Afghans, particularly women, children, and minorities; upholds the rule of law; and ensures that Afghanistan never again serves as a safe haven for terrorists.”

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Khalilzad in Kazakhstan to discuss Afghanistan peace process

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(Last Updated On: June 14, 2021)

US special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad met with Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in Nur-Sultan on Sunday to discuss the current situation in Afghanistan.

Kazakhstan media reports stated the two discussed prospects for the development of the Kazakh-US relations in the context of ensuring security and stability in Afghanistan especially once foreign troops have withdrawn.

Reports stated Khalilzad and Tokayev also discussed the coordination of bilateral and multilateral efforts for the stabilization and socio-economic reconstruction of Afghanistan.

Tokayev said: “This year we are marking the 30th anniversary of our Independence. During this period, we managed to build relations of friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation.

“The United States is a strong partner of Kazakhstan. We are good partners in so many areas, including trade and economic cooperation,” he said.

Tokayev also said the Afghan issue was always a focal point in his talks with the leaders of Afghanistan, Russia, China, Central Asian states and international organizations.

Kazakh media reported that during the meeting, Khalilzad shared his assessment of the current situation in Afghanistan, and the vision of American diplomacy regarding the further development of the intra-Afghan peace process.

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