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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Turkey ‘working to resume flights’ at Kabul airport

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Qatar has been sending daily batches of aid to Afghanistan through Kabul airport.

Turkey said it is working with Qatar and the United States to restore passenger flights at Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport, foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told Turkish media on Tuesday.

Cavusoglu’s comments come as Qatari and Turkish technical teams continue to work at Kabul airport to ensure it is functional enough to resume regular operations including the resumption of commercial flights.

US working to provide aid to Afghanistan despite sanctions: Blinken

The Turkish foreign minister offered to provide a private security company with the duty of securing the airport if the Taliban does not want foreign military presence, while stressing the need for security.

“In my view, the Taliban or Afghan forces could ensure security outside the airport…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,” added Cavusoglu, noting that some Turkish citizens have remained at the airport.

Turkey has been holding talks with the Taliban over the resumption of flights, as one of the few countries that can engage in dialogue with the group.

The presence of the Qatari and technical teams in Afghanistan came following a request by the Taliban to repair damages at the airport to make it safe for travel once more.

In the past week, Qatar has also been sending batches of aid to Kabul to help alleviate food security concerns. This came after discussions with the Taliban to ensure the airport is open for humanitarian assistance.

“Now what has been fixed is already making the airport capable of receiving charter flights. We’re starting the humanitarian aid flights as a test,” Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani told a press conference on Tuesday.

However, the Qatari foreign minister said they have yet to reach an agreement with the Taliban over the operations at the airport.

Sheikh Mohammed also said the current status of the facility will enable it receive flights for a limited time during the day, suggesting good news will be expected soon.

At the same press conference in Doha, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington has been in contact with the Taliban, noting the group said it is willing to allow the freedom of travel.


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