Taliban Delegation Lands in Turkey For 1st High-level Talks

Taliban Delegation Lands in Turkey For 1st High-level Talks

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) -- A high-level delegation of Afghanistan's new Taliban rulers has arrived in Turkey for talks with Turkish officials, the Foreign Ministry announced Thursday.

The meetings in the capital of Ankara would be first between the Taliban and senior Turkish government officials after the group seized control of Afghanistan. The visiting delegation is led by Amir Khan Mutaqi, the acting foreign minister, according to a Taliban spokesman.

Turkey has been working with Qatar to re-open the airport in the Afghan capital of Kabul to international travel. However, repairs are needed before commercial flights can resume.

There are currently two airline carriers, Islamabad-based Pakistan International Airlines and Afghanistan's privately-owned Kam Air, which operates chartered flights but at high costs to account for the insurance. The Taliban threatened to ban the airlines on Thursday unless they reduce costs, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid tweeted.

The cost of a one-way PIA ticket from Kabul to Islamabad costs around $2,500, up from $300 before the Taliban seized power in August.

The visit to Ankara comes after Taliban leaders held a series of meetings with the United States, 10 European nations and European Union representatives in Doha, the Qatari capital, this week.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at a virtual meeting between the Group of 20 most powerful economies that the international community should keep the channels of dialogue with the Taliban open, to "patiently and gradually steer" them toward establishing a more inclusive government.

Erdogan said Turkey, which already hosts more than 3.6 million Syrians, cannot bear an influx of migrants from Afghanistan, warning that European nations would also be affected by a new wave of migrants.

The Taliban say they want international recognition. They warn that weakening their government will affect security and spark an even bigger exodus of migration from the country.

The current Afghan government, which the Taliban say is only interim, is comprised solely of Taliban figures, including several blacklisted by the United Nations.