Germany is in talks with Turkey, the United States and the Taliban about keeping Kabul airport open beyond the planned Aug. 31 U.S. withdrawal date to help evacuate as many Afghans as possible who need protection, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Aug. 23.
"We are talking with the United States, Turkey and other partners with the aim of facilitating a civil operation of Kabul airport to enable the evacuation of people (beyond Aug. 31)," Maas was quoted as saying by Reuters.
"We will also have to continue to talk with the Taliban about this issue, and that's what we are doing," Maas reportedly said in Berlin.
The German minister made the remarks ahead of a virtual summit of the leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) industrialized countries.
At their summit on Aug. 24, the G7 leaders will also discuss how to improve access for evacuees to Kabul airport, Maas said.
Taliban warns of ‘consequences’ if US delays withdrawal
Meanwhile, a Taliban spokesperson on Aug. 23 warned of “consequences” if foreign forces stayed in the country beyond Aug. 31, calling the date just over a week from now a “red line.”
“It's a red line,” Suhail Shaheen told Sky News in Doha, the capital of Qatar, according to Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency.
“President Biden announced that on 31 August they would withdraw all their military forces. So if they extend it that means they are extending occupation while there is no need for that.”
“If the US or UK were to seek additional time to continue evacuations – the answer is no. Or there would be consequences,” he said.
“It will create mistrust between us. If they are intent on continuing the occupation it will provoke a reaction,” he said.
U.S. President Joe Biden on Aug. 22 said the United States is considering extending the deadline, pledging that any American who wants to leave Afghanistan will be evacuated.
Turkey, which has 600 troops in Afghanistan, has offered to keep them in Kabul to guard and operate the airport after the pullout of U.S. forces.
Despite reports that Turkey dropped plans to secure Kabul’s international airport, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said last week that Turkey is ready to talk with the Taliban about what role, if any, Turkey would play in Afghanistan.
"If there is a knock on our door, we will open it for dialogue," Erdoğan said on Aug. 20.