Turkish, US army chiefs discuss Afghanistan at NATO meeting

  20 September 2021    Read: 115
Turkish, US army chiefs discuss Afghanistan at NATO meeting

The army chiefs of Turkey and the United States Sunday met in the Greek capital Athens as part of the NATO Military Committee Conference to discuss the Afghanistan withdrawal, regional security and counterterrorism operations, AzVision.az reports citing Daily Sabah.

Turkey's Chief of General Staff Yaşar Güler met U.S. Chairperson of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley.

According to a statement by the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, the two officials addressed "multiple items of mutual security interest."

"They discussed the Afghanistan withdrawal, regional security and counterterrorism operations. The two leaders also discussed refugees and avoiding a humanitarian crisis," it read.

The statement also hailed the relations between Turkey and the U.S., saying the two countries "enjoy a strong and continuous military relationship as key members of the NATO alliance."

The NATO Military Committee Conference, which was attended by chiefs of defense of ally countries, provides a forum for the discussion of issues of strategic importance to the alliance.

An earlier NATO statement on the conference said the "Military Committee will also discuss the NATO 2030 initiative, along with its military implications and opportunities."

The U.S. is working together with Turkey and Qatar on Afghanistan’s Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport.

In a recent statement, Washington said that Turkey and Qatar want normal flights at Kabul airport to resume, adding that the Taliban voices the same desire.

With the Taliban in possession of Kabul's airport after the U.S. completed its withdrawal on Aug. 31, the focus will now shift from the mammoth Western evacuation operation to the group's future plans for the transport hub.

Turkey had offered to run security following the withdrawal of foreign troops, but the Taliban repeatedly said it would not accept any foreign military presence in Afghanistan after Aug. 31.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Turkey was still assessing the group's offer for Turkey to operate the airport, but the Taliban still insisted on controlling security.

Since 2002, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) have operated in Afghanistan under the United Nations, NATO and bilateral agreements to contribute to the peace, welfare and stability of the Afghan people. Turkey had more than 500 noncombatant troops stationed in Afghanistan as part of NATO’s now-abandoned mission in the war-torn country. Turkey had been in Afghanistan in a noncombatant role for two decades and had been involved in consultancy efforts, reconstruction and maintenance. It had been operating the airport for six years.

After the Taliban seized control of the country, Turkey offered technical and security assistance at the airport.

Keeping the airport open after foreign forces handed over control is vital not just for Afghanistan to stay connected to the world but to maintain aid supplies and operations.

The Taliban have insisted they want to keep the civilian airport open but without guarantees over security, commercial airlines are reluctant to operate out of Kabul.

More about: Turkey   United-States   Afghanistan