Islamabad, Jun 16 (PTI) Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi is set to visit Turkey this week as part of efforts to seek a political solution to the Afghan war, amid reports that Ankara is in talks with Islamabad to ensure the security of the Kabul Airport after the US and NATO forces' withdrawal from the war-torn country, according to a media report on Wednesday.
During his three-day visit, Qureshi will attend the Antalya Diplomacy Forum from June 18-20, which will also be attended by Abdullah Abdullah, the head of the Afghan High Peace Council and former President Hamid Karzai as well as other delegates from different countries.
The Express Tribune reported that Qureshi is likely to meet the Afghan leaders on the margins of the forum, which will discuss the way forward for the Afghan peace process.
There is a stalemate in the Intra-Afghan dialogue, as the Afghan Taliban are not willing to attend the Istanbul Conference, a US initiative to seek a deal among the Afghan players.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan raised the possibility that Ankara could cooperate with the US for a possible role in securing the international airport in Kabul after the US completes its troop withdrawal from Afghanistan by September 11.
But Turkish officials had said they would want financial assistance in exchange for a military presence in Kabul. Erdogan announced no firm deal on the airport but said Turkish forces might work jointly in Afghanistan with Pakistan and NATO member Hungary.
There is no immediate reaction from Pakistan but the issue is likely to come up for discussion when Foreign Minister Qureshi meets the Turkish President on the sidelines of the Antalya Diplomacy Forum this week.
At the NATO summit in Brussels, member countries agreed to keep the Kabul Airport operational after the withdrawal of the foreign forces from Afghanistan. Turkey has been asked to provide security for this purpose.
Observers are wary of Pakistan’s role inside Afghanistan given the trust deficit between Islamabad and Kabul. Qureshi earlier had admitted that the major obstacle in the way of improving ties between Pakistan and Afghanistan was the trust deficit.
With the US and NATO all set to complete the drawdown well ahead of the September 11 deadline announced by US President Joe Biden earlier this year, there are fears that Afghanistan may yet again slip into a new wave of unrest and civil war. PTI SH NSA