Turkey will take the lead in securing Kabul airport after US troops leave, Biden and Erdoan agree.
President Joe Biden and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed during a meeting in Brussels this week that Turkey will play a major role in securing Kabul airport as the United States withdraws troops from Afghanistan, a US official said. have taken.
But the two leaders were not able to resolve a long-running dispute that strained relations between Washington and Ankara over Turkey’s purchase of the Russian-made S-400 surface-to-air missile system. given, the official said.
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on Thursday that Biden and Erdogan discussed the issue of Afghanistan airport security in their meeting at the NATO summit on June 14.
Sullivan said Erdogan had sought US support to help secure the airport and Biden was committed to providing that assistance, Reuters news agency reported.
“The leaders’ clear commitment was established that Turkey will play a major role in securing Hamid Karzai International Airport and we are now working on how to achieve this,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan’s remarks offer the first details from the US side of the meeting between Biden and Erdoan, who told US President Ankara that it would not change its stance on the Russian S-400 missile system.
Ankara’s purchase of Russian anti-aircraft weapons has interfered with US plans to sell advanced F-35 fighter jets to Turkey. Washington has removed Ankara from the F-35 fighter jet program and imposed sanctions.
“I said [Biden] They should not expect Turkey to take a different step on the F-35 and S-400 issues because we did what we had to do for the F-35 and gave the necessary funding,” Erdoan told reporters on the return flight from Azerbaijan. said. Thursday.
“We must closely monitor the developments. We will abide by all our rights,” he said.
Turkey and the US have been at odds on many other issues, including policy differences in Syria and the eastern Mediterranean.
The two leaders appeared excited after their meeting, although they did not specify what concrete progress they had made. One potential area of cooperation has been Afghanistan, where Ankara has offered security and operation of Kabul airport after US and NATO forces withdrew in the coming weeks.
Airport security is critical to the conduct of diplomatic missions in Afghanistan as Western forces retreat.
Last week, a Taliban spokesman said Turkey should withdraw its troops from Afghanistan as part of a 2020 deal for the withdrawal of US forces, but Sullivan said the Taliban’s comments showed a “detailed and effective” security plan. not kept together.
“Obviously, we take seriously the concern that the Taliban or other elements in Afghanistan will attack a Western or international presence … We do not believe that what the Taliban have said is ongoing to establish a security presence. The efforts must or will be halted,” Sullivan said.
As president, Biden has adopted a colder tone towards Erdoan than predecessor Donald Trump. Biden recognized the genocide of Armenians in 1915 as a genocide, and Biden intensified criticism of Turkey’s human rights record.
It was unclear whether Biden had raised a human rights issue with Erdogan during their meeting, and Sullivan gave little detail about if the standoff on the S-400 would be resolved.
“They discussed it. The problem was not resolved. There was a commitment to continue talks on the S-400 and the two teams would move on when they came out of the meeting.