Turkey's Erdogan says could meet Taliban leader

Turkey's Erdogan says could meet Taliban leader to help secure Afghanistan peace
2 min read
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called developments in Afghanistan 'really, really troubling'.
Erdogan last month said Turkey would hold discussions with the Taliban as part of the Afghanistan peace process [Getty]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday said he could meet with the leader of the insurgent Taliban group in an attempt to help secure peace in Afghanistan.

Taliban fighters have captured more than a quarter of Afghanistan's provincial capitals in less than a week.

Turkey currently has troops in Afghanistan as part of a NATO force and has offered to secure the strategic Kabul airport after US forces leave by the end of August.

Discussions continue between Turkish and American officials, and Turkey says it would secure the airport if diplomatic, financial, and logistical conditions were met.

"The latest developments and the situation of the Afghan public are really, really troubling," Erdogan said during a televised interview with CNN Turk.

"Maybe I will even be in a position to receive the person who is their leader," Erdogan said, after referring to efforts by Turkish officials for talks with the Taliban.

Erdogan last month said Turkey would hold discussions with the Taliban as part of the peace process.

"Why? Because if we do not get a control of things like this at a high level, it won't be possible to secure peace this time in Afghanistan," he added.

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Erdogan's more pressing domestic concern is the Turkish public's fear of a wave of people fleeing Afghanistan as the insurgent group gains greater control over the country.

Turkey hosts 3.6 million Syrian refugees, and as the Turkish economy deteriorates, resentment towards them has grown with the main opposition calling for them to go.

Erdogan stressed that Turkey had the issue under control with walls being built in the country's east and south.

"Whether at the border with Iran or Iraq, our walls are rising significantly right now. These rising walls are to prevent illegal migration to our country," he said.

US President Joe Biden ordered the American military's withdrawal from Afghanistan before September 11, 2021, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attack on the US by Afghanistan-based Taliban-backed Al-Qaeda.