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Taliban delegation lands in Ankara for talks with Turkish officials

Afghanistan’s acting foreign minister and other ministers to meet ‘senior Turkish officials’ to discuss bilateral ties, aid, migration, air transport and trade.

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A high-level Taliban delegation has arrived in Turkey’s capital for talks as Afghanistan’s new government continues a diplomatic push for support and recognition.

Afghan Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Qahar Balkhi said on Twitter on Thursday that acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi and other ministers would meet “senior Turkish officials” to discuss “issues of mutual interest”, including aid, migration, air transport and trade.

Balkhi said the invitation was extended by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

Read more: Turkey says ‘no need to rush’ recognising Taliban

The visit comes a day after Cavusoglu told reporters that he and ministers from other countries plan to visit Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, for talks with the Taliban, who took over the country in August.

It also follows days of talks in Qatar, where the group appealed to United States and European officials to end the country’s isolation, including easing financial restrictions it says are crippling the country.

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. At the same time, it said it will only work fully with the Taliban if it forms a more inclusive administration.

Turkey has also been working with Qatar to help operate the airport in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, and reopen it to international travel.

This will be first high-level contact between Turkey and the new administration in Afghanistan after the Taliban took power on Aug. 15.

Read more: New dawn in US-Taliban ties as talks in Qatar kickstart

Balkhi said the two sides will discuss how to improve bilateral relations, trade, humanitarian aid, migration and air transport issues.

Ties with Taliban 2.0; an historic opportunity for Turkey

Prof Ahmet Kasim Han, an expert on Afghan relations at Istanbul’s Altinbas University, believes dealing with the Taliban provides President Erdogan with an opportunity.

“To make their grip on power sustainable, the Taliban need international aid and investment to go on. The Taliban are not even able to pay for the salaries of their government employees today,” he told the BBC.

Read more: Qatar and Turkey throwing lifeline to Taliban 2.0 regime

He says Turkey may try to position itself as “guarantor, mediator, facilitator” – as a more trusted intermediary than Russia or China – who have kept their embassies open in Kabul.

“Turkey can serve that role,” he says.

Reuter with additional input by GVS News Desk

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