U.S. ‘working closely’ with Turkey and Qatar to reopen Kabul airport 'as quickly as possible' – Blinken
The United States is “working closely” with both Turkey and Qatar to reopen Hamid Karzai International Airport in the Afghan capital Kabul “as quickly as possible”, United States Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said on Friday.
“We’re working closely with our partners Qatar and Turkey to help get the airport in Kabul up and running as quickly as possible,” he told reporters.
Blinken will travel to the Qatari capital Doha on Sunday, where he will “meet with Qatari leaders to express our deep gratitude for all that they’re doing to support the evacuation effort”.
On Thursday, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said that his country is working with the Taliban to reopen Kabul airport and “operate it as soon as possible.”
Doha, he added, is “engaging with (the Taliban) and also with Turkey if they can provide any technical assistance”.
The U.S. had supported a plan to leave the security of Kabul airport to Turkish troops after U.S.-led coalition troops completed their full withdrawal from Afghanistan by Aug. 31. However, the Taliban’s swift takeover of most of Afghanistan, including Kabul, in mid-August frustrated that plan.
Turkey has said that Kabul airport cannot be reopened to civilian flights without repairs first being made. It has considered providing the Taliban with technical help. However, Ankara is concerned about security. The Taliban oppose Turkey basing any troops in the airport to protect civilian personnel.
Ankara has warned it will not help the Taliban reopen and operate the airport unless the militant group permits a Turkish security presence there.