Erdoğan mulls possibility of meeting with Taliban leader in future
Turkish authorities are working to set up talks with the Taliban, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Aug. 11, signaling that he might meet with the Taliban leader in the future.
“Turkey’s relevant institutions are currently working until we have some talks with the Taliban. Maybe even I can be in a position to receive the person who will be their leader,” Erdoğan said during a joint TV interview broadcast live on broadcasters CNN Turk and Kanal D.
He earlier spoke with the Qatari leader, and they discussed “where can we stop the steps taken by the Taliban and where can we take a step towards peace,” Erdoğan said.
Citing the issue of irregular migrants from Afghanistan, Erdoğan said that Turkey was raising walls along borders with both Iran and Iraq. “The walls rising there are to prevent these irregular migrants from entering our country.”
A significant part of the irregular migrants held are deported to Afghanistan by Turkish institutions, he added.
Erdoğan stressed that Turkey was not a place where anyone can frequently stop by, adding, “We evaluate all these, and we take our steps accordingly.”
The Turkish president also denied that there was a flow of irregular migrants across Turkey’s borders as “exaggerated on social media.”
Turkey has been a key transit point for irregular migrants who want to cross and enter Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing wars and persecution.
Violence has escalated across Afghanistan as U.S.-led foreign forces have almost withdrawn their troops following 20 years of military operations.
The Taliban has rapidly captured several smaller administrative districts and is now targeting towns and cities. They have captured nine provincial capitals from government forces in just six days.
Turkey has proposed to secure and run the Kabul Airport on condition of financial and logistics support after the U.S. and NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan. Ankara and Washington have been holding talks on the issue.
However, the Taliban have opposed Ankara’s proposal, saying that Turkey should also withdraw its troops in line with the pullout deal of the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission.
Meanwhile, Erdoğan held a phone call on Aug. 11 with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who conveyed his wishes for Turkey’s recovery from recent forest fires.
Erdoğan also congratulated Iran’s newly-elected President Ebrahim Raeisi on his inauguration and said he believes that the relations between Turkey and Iran as well as regional cooperation will become stronger in every field in the new term.
Turkey to buy firefighting aircraft
Elaborating on the recent wildfires in Turkey and a debate on the aircraft used in firefighting, Erdoğan said helicopters were “the most important aircraft in firefighting” in Turkey. The number of those helicopters increased from 18 in 2002 to 39 in 2021 - referring to AKP’s ongoing term in power - and approached 60 during the recent wildfires across Turkey, he noted.
Turkey ranked 46th in the world in 2015 among the countries that increased its forest assets and rose to 27th place in 2020, he said.
Erdoğan said Turkey would “probably buy itself a plane for firefighting” and would make the team and fleet “much stronger” in battling fires.
“Our burning forests will rise from their ashes. These areas will be reforested in the most efficient way and become green again,” Erdoğan vowed.