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Turkey, Qatar agree to jointly operate Kabul airport: state-run AA

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Turkish and Qatari companies have signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly run Afghanistan’s Taliban-controlled Kabul International Airport, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported, citing diplomatic sources.

Anadolu said a technical delegation from Turkey has arrived in Doha to discuss coordination with Qatari officials regarding the operation of the airport.

Afghans and foreign nationals fled the country through the facility as the hardline Islamist movement took power in August following two decades of war.

Sources said the memorandum of understanding was signed by the Turkish and Qatari companies during a visit by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu to Doha on Dec. 7.

Following the talks between the technical delegations from the two countries, a joint delegation was expected to travel to Kabul on Thursday where they would meet officials from Afghanistan’s interim government regarding the operation of the airport.

Turkey was initially negotiating with Washington and the Taliban about providing security for the airport, but it withdrew its entire contingent of more than 500 non-combat soldiers as Taliban fighters converged on Kabul in August after the US troop withdrawal.

Turkey has since said it was open to providing professional and technical services such as baggage handling at the airport to help relaunch civilian flights. But the Taliban have officially rejected Ankara’s offer to keep Turkish non-combat soldiers for security at the air hub.

Qatar and Turkey are close regional allies that have taken the international lead in direct talks with the Taliban in recent months.

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