US welcomes 'commitment' from Turkey to secure Kabul airport

US welcomes 'clear commitment' from Turkey to secure Kabul airport
2 min read
17 June, 2021
Turkey's 'clear commitment' to secure Kabul's airport once US forces leave has been welcomed by the United States, a top official said.
Turkey has vowed to protect the facility [Getty]

The United States on Thursday hailed Turkey's promise to secure Kabul's airport once US forces leave, saying the two nations' presidents agreed at their summit to work out the logistics.

President Joe Biden and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan - who met in Brussels on Monday after tensions between the NATO allies - had a "detailed discussion" about the fate of the airport, said Jake Sullivan, the US national security advisor.

The two leaders "agreed that they would work together to make this happen," Sullivan told reporters.

Erdogan said Turkey needed "certain forms of support" to which Biden agreed, he said.

"The two of them tasked teams just to work out the final details. But the clear commitment from the leaders was established that Turkey would play a lead role in securing Hamid Karzai International Airport," Sullivan said.

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Biden has ordered the withdrawal of all US forces from Afghanistan by September 11, the 20th anniversary of America's longest war, believing that no more can be achieved.

Even US officials have acknowledged concerns about whether the Kabul government can withstand a potential offensive by the Taliban - and the airport is considered crucial to stability. 

Turkey, as a Muslim-majority nation but also a member of NATO, has played a key role in Afghanistan.

Erdogan's offer to help comes after early tensions with the Biden administration including over Turkey's purchase of the S-400 missile defence system from Russia.

Relations between the US and Turkey have been tense in recent years, and Erdogan said he wanted to turn a new page with the Biden administration.

"There were rumours here and there. We need to leave them behind and discuss what we can do," he said.

"We expect to see an approach from the US without ifs and buts."

Relations have sharply deteriorated since Biden replaced Erdogan's ally Donald Trump in January.

Biden most notably recognised the Armenian genocide by the Ottoman empire during World War I, a move that outraged Turkey which rejects that term.

"This has seriously saddened us... Turkey is not an ordinary country. It's an ally of America," Erdogan said.