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Turkey Commits to Securing Afghan Airport After Americans Leave, U.S. Says
A major source of strain between the nations, Ankara’s purchase of a Russian air defense system, remains unresolved
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President Biden said he will withdraw all U.S. troops from the country by Sept. 11, marking the second time in less than two years that an American president has set a date to end involvement in the Afghan conflict -- the longest war in U.S. history. Photo: Andrew Harnik/Getty Images
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Updated June 17, 2021 9:54 pm ET
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WASHINGTON—The U.S. and Turkey have agreed to a plan for the Turks to continue providing security at the airport in Kabul, U.S. officials said, ensuring the U.S. and other nations can maintain a diplomatic presence in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of troops, expected by next month.
Jake Sullivan, President Biden’s national security adviser, told reporters Thursday that both sides had made a “clear commitment” on the security of Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.
“We are feeling good about where we are in terms of the planning with the Turks on this issue,” Mr. Sullivan said.
The issue of airport security is critical to the American diplomatic presence in Afghanistan. A Taliban takeover of the airport could make it impossible for American and allied personnel to safely evacuate the country. U.S. military officials also have said that without a secure airport, the U.S. Embassy complex in Kabul would have to shut down and all personnel be removed from the country.
Taliban leaders already have expressed opposition to any foreign personnel, including from Turkey, remaining in the country to provide airport security.
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