Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says his government has held its first talks with the Taliban in Kabul, adding that Ankara was still assessing the Islamist group’s offer to run the Afghan capital’s airport.
The Turkish leader says 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 tells reporters. “If necessary, we will have the opportunity to hold such talks again.”
Responding to domestic 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 says.
Turkey had been planning to help secure and run Kabul’s strategic airport, but on Wednesday, it started pulling troops out of Afghanistan — an apparent sign of Ankara abandoning this goal.