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UAE talks with Taliban to run Kabul airport

i24NEWS - Reuters

clock 3 min read

Afghan people walk near the exit gate of the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on November 24, 2021.
HECTOR RETAMAL / AFPAfghan people walk near the exit gate of the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on November 24, 2021.

Such discussions challenge Qatar in a diplomatic tussle for influence over Afghanistan's new rulers

The United Arab Emirates spoke with Taliban officials about overseeing the airport in Kabul, according to foreign diplomats based in the region.

Such discussions challenge the UAE's Gulf rival Qatar in a scramble for influence over Afghanistan's new rulers, Reuters reported.

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A series of discussions have been held in recent weeks by UAE officials to debate operating the airport which serves as Afghanistan’s link to the rest of the world. 

The talks demonstrate how countries are seeking to assert their influence in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, even as its government is not formally recognized. 

According to anonymous sources, the Emiratis - who ran the Hamid Karzai International Airport during the US-backed Afghan republic - aim to counter Qatar’s diplomatic popularity there.

Following the US withdrawal in August, the Qataris, along with Turkey, are helping run the airport in Afghanistan’s capital. 

Yet, the Taliban has not formalized an arrangement with Qatar, Reuters reported.

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According to a senior Emirati foreign ministry official, the UAE "remains committed to continuing to assist in operating" it to ensure humanitarian access and safe passage.

The Gulf state also aided in recent evacuation efforts, and diplomats claimed that the Taliban is seeking financial assistance from the UAE.