Turkish foreign minister briefs Afghan counterpart on NATO talks - Metro US

Turkish foreign minister briefs Afghan counterpart on NATO talks

FILE PHOTO: Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu looks on during a joint statement with High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell (not pictured)

ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Thursday briefed his Afghan counterpart Mohammad Hanif Atmar on NATO discussions in which the allies agreed to withdraw their forces from Afghanistan by Sept. 11.

NATO allies agreed the withdrawal plan on Wednesday in coordination with a U.S. pull-out by Sept. 11, and pledged to mirror American plans to start removing troops on May 1 after two decades of war.

Cavusoglu attended the talks at NATO’s headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday over Afghanistan, ahead of a peace summit planned from April 24 in Istanbul that would include the United Nations and more than 20 countries.

“Our Minister briefed his counterpart on developments from the Resolute Support Mission Framework Nations and NATO Council meetings held on April 14, as well as about what will happen in the coming period,” Turkey’s foreign ministry said.

The two ministers also discussed the peace process in the phone call, it said.

In a televised interview on Thursday, Cavusoglu said NATO was discussing how to support Afghanistan in the coming period.

“Whether it will be under a different mission – not the Resolute Support Mission – or whether a group of nations will be here, with NATO or other institutional support, or whether there will be another structure, on a bilateral or individual level, these all need to be discussed,” he said.

Earlier on Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken flew to Kabul to show support for the Afghan government a day after President Joe Biden announced that he was pulling out U.S. forces.

The foreign troop withdrawals have raised concerns that Afghanistan could erupt again in full-scale civil war, providing al-Qaeda space in which to rebuild and plan new attacks on U.S. and other targets.

(Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Daren Butler and Gareth Jones)

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