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RFE/RL Gandhara

Taliban Foreign Minister Arrives In Turkey For Talks With Turkish FM

By RFE/RL October 14, 2021

A Taliban delegation led by acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi arrived in Turkey on October 14 for talks with Turkish officials, including Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

Spokesman Abdul Qahar Balkhi said earlier on Twitter that Muttaqi and other ministers would hold talks in Ankara on aid, migration, air transport, and trade.

The Taliban toppled the Western-backed Afghan government in August following a blitz offensive across the war-wracked country amid the withdrawal of U.S.-led foreign forces that put an end to the two-decade-long conflict.

Afghanistan's economy is in free fall with most aid cut off as winter nears, food prices rising, and unemployment spiking.

NATO member Turkey kept its embassy in Afghanistan open after Western countries withdrew following the Taliban takeover, and Ankara has been working with Qatar to help operate Kabul airport and reopen it to international travel.

Only two airline carriers -- Islamabad-based Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and Afghanistan's privately owned Kam Air -- operate chartered flights but at high costs to account for the insurance.

The Taliban threatened to ban the airlines on October 14 unless they reduce costs, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid tweeted.

The cost of a one-way PIA ticket from Kabul to Islamabad costs around $2,500, up from $300 before the Taliban seized power in August.

The visit to Ankara comes after Taliban leaders held a series of meetings with the United States, 10 European nations, and European Union representatives in Doha, the Qatari capital, this week.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at a virtual meeting between the Group of 20 most powerful economies that the international community should keep the channels of dialogue with the Taliban open, to "patiently and gradually steer" it toward establishing a more inclusive government.

Erdogan said Turkey, which already hosts more than 3.6 million Syrians, cannot bear an influx of migrants from Afghanistan, warning that European nations would also be affected by a new wave of migrants.

Turkish sources confirmed the planned talks with Cavusoglu but did not provide further information.

The visit comes a day after Cavusoglu told reporters that he and ministers from other countries planned to visit Kabul for talks with the Taliban.

Based on reporting by AP, Reuters, and AFP

Source: https://gandhara.rferl.org/a/afghanistan- taliban-turkey-talks/31508715.html

Copyright (c) 2021. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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