By Janet Ekstract
ISTANBUL (TURKISH JOURNAL)- On Thursday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu held talks with his Afghan counterpart Amir Khan Muttaqi in closed-door meetings. Muttaqi was in Turkey to drum up support for humanitarian aid to Afghanistan amid what UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres labeled a “humanitarian crisis” in the country. After meetings, Cavusoglu spoke to the press, stating: “We have told the international community about the importance of engagement with the current Taliban administration. In fact, recognition and engagement are two different things.” The Turkish foreign minister added that countries that froze Afghanistan’s assets must “act more flexibly so that salaries can be paid.”
Meanwhile, the World Bank cut funds to Afghanistan in the summer after the Taliban returned to power in August. The Taliban have been condemned by the international community for reported brutal abuses of power as well as preventing girls and women from attending school and going to work. Cavusoglu commented that he did urge the Taliban on women’s rights including access to education and jobs. He said: “We asked them not to see this as a precondition or a demand, but that this is also the expectation of the other Muslim countries.”
In addition, Cavusoglu emphasized the necessity of ensuring security at Kabul’s international airport before any regular flights resume. Turkey suggested its offer of providing security for the airport but Taliban leaders rejected the offer of assistance. Cavusoglu said: “Today we explained to them once more the expectations on the issue of security – not only ours but the entire international community – for running the airport and especially the start of regular flights.”
Muttaqi made no statements after the talks. The Taliban representative has been holding talks with foreign officials from the U.S. and Qatar, cautioning that continued sanctions threaten Afghanistan’s security. The meeting between Muttaqi and his high-level Taliban delegation was the first since the group swept to power in August. Talks with Turkey took place after the delegation met for a series of talks with the U.S., 10 European nations and European Union representatives in Qatar, earlier this week. Turkey is interested in playing a larger role in Afghanistan as the only Muslim-majority member of the NATO alliance but its efforts so far, have been hampered.