Turkey wants NATO allies to share the financial and security burden of having its troops safeguard the Kabul airport in Afghanistan, a critical issue for the U.S. as it seeks to maintain a diplomatic presence in the city, Bloomberg reported on June 10.
"Staying in Afghanistan is not a responsibility that a single country can take without support," Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told state broadcaster TRT television late June 9. "There is a security risk, but also a serious financial cost. It needs to be shared."
The U.S. and NATO have already started withdrawing their remaining troops from Afghanistan, with a deadline of Sept. 11, despite concerns over the stability of the Afghan government and the resurgence of the Taliban, which now controls or contests 50% to 70% of the country.
Securing the Kabul airport is expected to be a top agenda item during a meeting between presidents Joe Biden and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Brussels on June 14 on the sidelines of the NATO summit. Turkey is the largest Muslim voice in NATO and has troops in Afghanistan in a non-combat role as part of the coalition supporting Afghan security forces.
“There are ongoing discussions” on who will be responsible for the security of the airport and what the scope and scale of it is going to be, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said June 9.
"We obviously had ongoing discussions with Turkish leaders about their plans for security at the airport. Obviously, this is a national decision that President Erdoğan has to make and we respect that. We had some preliminary discussions," Kirby also said.
The Pentagon is weighing the possibility of using warplanes or drones to support Afghan troops if Kabul or another major city is in danger of falling to the Taliban, the New York Times reported June 9, citing unidentified officials.