Taliban pays first visit to Turkey after takeover of Afghanistan

Taliban pays first visit to Turkey after takeover of Afghanistan

Taliban pays first visit to Turkey after takeover of Afghanistan

A high-level delegation of Afghanistan’s new Taliban rulers, led by the acting foreign minister, Amir Khan Muttaqi, has arrived in Ankara for meetings with Turkish officials, Foreign Ministry officials said on Oct. 14.

Afghan Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Qahar Balkhi said on Twitter that Muttaqi and other ministers held talks in Ankara on aid, migration, air transport and trade.

The Afghan delegation was also expected to meet with the head of the Presidency of Religious Affairs (Diyanet).

The talks would be first between the Taliban and senior Turkish government officials after the group seized control of Afghanistan.

NATO member Turkey maintained its embassy in Afghanistan after Western countries withdrew following the Taliban takeover and has urged those countries to step up engagement. Ankara also said it will only work fully with the Taliban if they form a more inclusive administration.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Oct. 13 said that he was planning to visit the Afghan capital Kabul with a group of counterparts.

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 Erdoğan 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’’ them toward establishing a more inclusive government.

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

The Taliban say they want international recognition. They warn that weakening their government will affect security and spark an even bigger exodus of migration from the country.

The current Afghan government, which the Taliban say is only interim, is comprised solely of Taliban figures, including several blacklisted by the United Nations.

Turkey has been working with Qatar to help operate Kabul airport and re-open it to international travel.