NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg, ahead of the Brussels summit, on Monday said that NATO allies are exploring “how we can maintain and support critical infrastructure including the airport” in Afghanistan.
The discussion involves the US, Turkey and others, Stoltenberg said. He also mentioned the NATO commitment to continued training for the Afghan security forces.
“NATO is planning to provide support and also some NATO allies are now in direct dialogue, including the United States and Turkey and others, on how to make sure that we can maintain an international airport in Kabul,” he said.
“This is of course important for NATO allies, but it's also important for the whole international community for diplomatic presence, and also for continued development aid,” Stoltenberg said.
He also said that NATO “will continue to support the Afghans and provide support to the Afghan security forces.”
“We will do that partly through our civilian presence, where we will provide support, advice, to the Afghan security institutions. We will continue to provide funding for Afghan security forces, that is a commitment that all Allies have made. And then we're also now working on how we can provide out-of-country training for the Afghan security forces,” he mentioned.
Amid talks on handing over responsibilities of the security of Kabul airport to Turkish forces, Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday said his country would be the "only reliable" country left to stabilize Afghanistan after the US pulls out its troops.
Quoted by AFP, Erdogan said he will discuss the issue in his first face-to-face meeting with US President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Brussels on Monday.
"America is preparing to leave Afghanistan soon and from the moment they leave, the only reliable country to maintain the process over there is obviously Turkey," Erdogan told reporters at Istanbul airport on Sunday before leaving for Brussels, as quoted by AFP.
The withdrawal of US forces as been completed by more than 50 percent, the US Central Command said last week.
Turkey has reportedly said it is prepared to keep troops in Afghanistan to protect Kabul airport, the main exit route for western diplomats and humanitarian workers.
According to AFP, Erdogan said on Sunday that Turkish officials had informed their American counterparts about Ankara's plans in Afghanistan after the US troop pullout, without providing details.
They are "pleased and happy. We will be able to discuss the Afghanistan process with them," he said.
A member of the Taliban negotiating team in Doha told TOLOnews that handing over the airport authority to Turkish forces would have a negative impact on the peace negotiations.
The Taliban in a statement last week said the safety of the airport is part of the responsibility of Afghans, and called on all international troops, including Turkey’s forces, to leave Afghanistan under the Doha agreement signed in 2020.