President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday said Turkey would be the “only reliable” country left to stabilise Afghanistan after the US pulls out its troops, indicating Washington could rely on it NATO ally.
The Turkish leader also said he would discuss the issue in his first face-to-face meeting with US President Joe Biden on the margins of a 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 an Istanbul airport on Sunday before leaving for Brussels.
The United States is in the final stages of completing a military drawdown, alongside NATO forces, by September 11 — 20 years after they invaded Afghanistan and toppled the Taliban.
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.
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.
On Saturday the Taliban said that foreign forces should hold “no hope” of keeping a military presence in Afghanistan after the US and NATO withdraw troops, warning the security of embassies and airports would be the responsibility of Afghans.