Erdogan says Turkey still aims to maintain Kabul airport security

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FILE PHOTO: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan gives a statement after a cabinet meeting in Ankara
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ISTANBUL (Reuters) -President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that Turkey still aims to maintain security at Kabul airport, after Taliban fighters took control of Afghanistan's capital.

NATO member Turkey, which has hundreds of troops in Afghanistan, had been discussing with the United States a proposal to keep those forces in the country to guard and run the airport after the withdrawal of other NATO forces.

Turkish sources told Reuters this week that those original plans were dropped because of the chaos in Kabul, but that Turkey would still offer the Taliban security and technical assistance at the airport.

"With the Taliban maintaining control over the country, a new picture appeared before us," Erdogan said in a television interview. "Now we are making our plans according to these new realities that were formed on the field and we are continuing our talks accordingly."

Turkey was continuing contacts with all sides in the process, Erdogan said, and welcomed what he described as moderate statements by the Taliban since they swept into Kabul.

"For the calm of the people of Afghanistan, the well-being of our Turkish kinsmen living in the country and protecting the interests of our country, we are open to any cooperation," he said, repeating an offer to host Taliban leaders for talks.

(Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen; Writing by Dominic Evans; Editing by Chris Reese and Marguerita Choy)

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