Turkey Awaiting Decision from U.S., NATO to Take Control of Afghanistan Airport

Turkey is awaiting a decision from the U.S. and NATO to take control of Afghanistan's airport in its capital Kabul.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Friday negotiations were taking place with the U.S. over the country's proposal to secure Kabul's Hamid Karzai International Airport following the total departure of U.S. troops and NATO forces from Afghanistan, according to the Associated Press.

Turkey has more than 500 troops stationed in Afghanistan and is already involved in the airport's operations.

"The airport must be open and operate. If the airport doesn't work, embassies will pull out, and in such a situation, Afghanistan would become an isolated state," said Akar.

If a decision on the airport's protection is not reached, it will remain under control of the U.S.' Resolute Support Mission and could complicate U.S. plans to fully pull out of Afghanistan.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Kabul Airport in Afghanistan
Turkey is awaiting a decision from the U.S. and NATO for the country's proposal to take control of Kabul's airport following the departure of the U.S. and NATO from Afghanistan. In this photo, helicopters sit on the tarmac at Kabul Airport on October 3, 2014 in Kabul, Afghanistan. Dan Kitwood/Pool/Getty Images

Akar said Turkey was discussing the plan with several countries. "There must be some political decisions at the United Nations and NATO, and an agreement must be reached with the Afghan government," he said, adding that Turkey was seeking political, financial and logistical support from various countries.

He emphasized that a final decision had not yet been reached, but negotiations were continuing and the plan would be executed after the Turkish president's approval.

Earlier this summer, Turkey proposed to operate and provide security for Kabul's Hamid Karzai International Airport. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed it with U.S. President Joe Biden at their first face-to-face meeting during the NATO summit in mid-June.

An agreement on the protection of the airport has become increasingly urgent as the final withdrawal of the remaining 2,500-3,500 U.S. troops and 76,000 allied NATO soldiers nears a conclusion. On Friday all U.S. troops left Bagram Airfield after 20 years. The airfield had been the epicenter of the countrywide military operation to defeat the Taliban and hunt down al-Qaida perpetrators of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States.

Akar has previously said NATO-member Turkey has no plans to deploy more troops in Afghanistan.

Until there is an agreement it is not clear that the U.S. and NATO can declare their military mission in Afghanistan over.

"We have stated our intent. We said we can stay if these conditions are realized," Akar said.

The minister's comments were carried by the official Anadolu news agency.