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NATO to decide on the future of Kabul Airport, Turkey has key role, official says

June 15, 2021 at 2:36 pm

A health services staff member wearing protective gear looks on as he waits to check passengers at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on February 2, 2020 [WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP via Getty Images]

NATO leaders at the Brussels summit yesterday agreed to maintain funding for the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul after the Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan ends, and will decide which country will run the airport, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said, adding that Turkey would play a key role.

“Recognizing 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,” Stoltenberg said in the summit statement.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday Ankara would be the “only reliable” country left to stabilise Afghanistan after the US pulls out its troops.

Last week, Turkey proposed that it guard and run Kabul’s airport after the United States and other NATO forces withdraw from Afghanistan. However, a Taliban spokesman said Turkey should withdraw its troops from Afghanistan under the 2020 deal for the pullout of US forces, rejecting Ankara’s proposal to guard and run Kabul’s airport after the US-led NATO forces depart.

The final statement on Turkey’s role at the airport will be announced this week, NATO said.

READ: Foreign forces begin vacating bases in Afghanistan