Erdogan: No decision yet on Taliban request for Turkish help at airport

ANKARA: Turkey has not made a final decision on a Taliban request for support to run the Kabul airport after foreign forces withdraw over security concerns and uncertainty in Afghanistan.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed the group approached Turkey for help in running the airport, condemning the terror attacks in Kabul at a press conference on Friday, adding talks were still underway.

Turkey’s military began evacuations on Wednesday, a day before a Daesh suicide bomber struck at the gates of Kabul airport and another at the nearby Baron Hotel, killing more than 80 people, including 13 US soldiers.

Erdogan said calm should be restored in Kabul before making a decision on the airport, adding there was a risk of getting “sucked in” to something that would be hard to explain given uncertainty around the possible mission.

“The Taliban have made a request regarding the operation of the Kabul airport. They say, ‘We’ll ensure security and you can operate it’. But we have not made a decision yet because there is always a possibility of death and such things there,” Erdogan said before leaving for a visit to Bosnia.

Daesh showed the threat it poses to both region and world, Erdogan said.

Erdogan’s comments come as US-led forces braced for more attacks by Daesh-Khorasan while racing to complete evacuations before an August 31 deadline set by President Joe Biden.

“In wake of Kabul attack, evacuation of Turkish troops, as well as citizens, is a priority and will be completed as soon as possible,” he said.

When asked about Ankara’s Kabul policy, he said Turkey will act after September 1 as Afghanistan has no governance at the moment and decisions will be taken after a government has been established.

Erdogan confirmed that Turkey held its first talks with the Taliban in Kabul.

The Turkish leader said the talks were held at a military section of the Kabul airport where the Turkish embassy is temporarily stationed.

“We have held our first talks with the Taliban, which lasted 3.5 hours,” Erdogan told reporters. “If necessary, we will have the opportunity to hold such talks again.”

Responding to criticism over Turkey’s engagement with the insurgent group, Erdogan said Ankara had “no luxury” to stand idly by in the volatile region.

“You cannot know what their expectations are or what our expectations are without talking. What’s diplomacy, my friend? This is diplomacy,” Erdogan said.

Courtesy: TRT World

Pentagon says one suicide bomber carried out Kabul attack

WASHINGTON (Reuters): The Pentagon on Friday said the deadly attack outside Kabul airport the previous day was carried out by one suicide bomber and that there was not a second explosion at a nearby hotel.

“I can confirm for you that we do not believe that there was a second explosion at or near the Baron hotel, that it was one suicide bomber,” Army Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor, deputy director of the joint staff for regional operations, told reporters at the Pentagon.

Thursday’s bombing, which killed 13 U.S. service members and at least 100 Afghans, took place “right at” outside the Abby gate at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.

Defense officials initially said a second bombing had taken place outside the Baron Hotel, which is adjacent to the airfield and a key site in the effort to evacuate U.S. and British citizens.

But on Friday, Taylor said Defense officials don’t know the source of that initial report.

“We’re not sure how that report was provided incorrectly, but we do know it’s not any surprise that in the confusion of very dynamic events like this can cause information sometimes to be misreported or garbled,” he said. “Details are continuing to be collected.”

Eighteen service members who were wounded in the blast have since landed at Ramstein Air Base, a U.S. Air Force base in Germany, and have been transferred to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center for treatment, Taylor added.

Numerous Afghan civilians were also injured in Thursday’s explosion. ISIS-K militants claimed responsibility for the attack.

Evacuations resumed after the bombing. Roughly 12,500 people were evacuated from Afghanistan on 89 flights in the 24 hours after the suicide bombing.

About 300 American citizens were included in the latest round of evacuations, bringing the total to 5,100 removed from the country since Aug. 14. Overall, the U.S. military has evacuated 111,000 people since the end of July.

Courtesy: TRT World

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