Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar and his US counterpart Lloyd Austin met yesterday to discuss a plan for Ankara to operate and guard Afghanistan's Kabul airport after NATO forces withdrawal from the country, Reuters reported.
Last month, Turkey offered to run the airport after NATO forces pull out of Afghanistan this year. However a Taliban spokesperson said Ankara should withdraw its troops from the country along with other foreign forces.
Austin and Akar discussed the drawdown of the US forces from Afghanistan and both "reasserted the importance of adequate security" at the airport. It said the two agreed to speak again in the near future.
Experts say providing Turkey a role in 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 eastern Mediterranean waters.
"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," Akar said.
Discussions are due to continue today, the Turkish statement said.