Turkey denies reports claiming it gave up plans to run Kabul airport

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Turkey has denied reports claiming that it has given up on plans to continue running Kabul’s airport, saying it was awaiting the results of ongoing talks between the Taliban and several Afghan politicians.

“We hope that they reach an agreement through peaceful means,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told Hurriyet newspaper in comments that were printed on Wednesday.

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“After these (talks) take place, we can talk about these things.”

Turkey, a NATO member whose some 600 troops provided security at the international airport in Kabul, has proposed to continue running and protecting the airport following the withdrawal of US and NATO troops. The Taliban has said it wants all NATO troops to leave Afghanistan.

Cavusoglu meanwhile, defended the government’s decision to engage in talks with the Taliban, following criticism from opposition parties.

“This does not mean that we espouse their ideology. Everyone is being pragmatic,” he said.

The minister also came under criticism for saying the government welcomes “positive messages” from the Taliban.

“We said, ‘We welcome their messages,’ but we said that we are cautious, that is, we should see these (messages) applied in practice,” Cavusoglu said.

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