Turkish, US defense heads hold phone call on Afghan airport

Turkish, US defense heads hold phone call on Afghan airport

Turkish, US defense heads hold phone call on Afghan airport

The defense chiefs of Turkey and the U.S. on July 7 discussed in a phone call the latest situation in ongoing talks on ensuring the security of the airport in Afghanistan’s capital after this summer’s NATO pullout from the country, said Turkey's Defense Ministry.

Hulusi Akar and U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin discussed the continuing talks on the operation and security of Hamid Karzai International Airport in the capital Kabul, the ministry said.

The phone call was positive and constructive, the ministry said, adding that the two officials decided to continue the discussion on July 8.

Last month, a delegation of U.S. State Department and Pentagon officials arrived in Ankara to discuss progress on efforts to keep Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul operational after the U.S. troop pullout, set to conclude by Sept. 11.

Both parties later agreed to continue discussions, a Turkish National Defense Ministry statement had said.

The situation in Afghanistan heated up after U.S. President Joe Biden announced that all American forces will withdraw from the war-torn country by Sept. 11, with NATO allies doing the same.

Biden and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan discussed the issue at a recent NATO leaders’ summit in Brussels.

Ankara has been running the military and logistic operations of the Kabul airport for six years as part of the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission.

Turkey, whose forces in Afghanistan have always been noncombatants, has reportedly offered to guard the airport amid questions over how security will be assured along major transport routes and at the airport, which is the main gateway to the capital.

Meanwhile, Akar also discussed bilateral relations with his Spanish counterpart in a phone call on July 7.

According to a statement by the Turkish Defense Ministry, the conversation between Hulusi Akar and Margarita Robles Fernandez was "positive" and "constructive."

Besides matters related to the EU and NATO, the two ministers discussed regional defense and security issues, including Afghanistan, and cooperation in the defense industry.

Later in the day, Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Güler also spoke to Rob Bauer, the head of NATO Military Committee, over the phone.

The two discussed current developments, the Turkish Armed Forces said on Twitter.

Akar and Albanian defense ministers on July 8 discussed regional and bilateral defense issues.

“Minister of National Defence Hulusi Akar held a telephone call with Niko Peleshi, the Minister of Defence for Albania,” said a statement issued by the Defense Ministry.

“During the conversation, views were exchanged on regional and bilateral defense and security issues, including Afghanistan,” it added.