UAE holds talks with Taliban to run Kabul airport

The United Arab Emirates has held talks with the Taliban to run Kabul airport, going up against Persian Gulf rival Qatar in a diplomatic tussle for influence with Afghanistan's new rulers, according to four sources with knowledge of the matter.

Iran PressAsia: UAE officials have held a series of discussions with the Taliban in recent weeks to discuss operating the airport that serves as landlocked Afghanistan's main air link to the world, the foreign diplomats based in the Gulf region told Reuters.

The Emiratis are keen to counter diplomatic clout enjoyed there by Qatar, according to the sources who declined to be name due to the sensitivity of the matter.

The Qataris have been helping run the Hamid Karzai International Airport along with Turkey after playing a major role in evacuation efforts following the chaotic US withdrawal in August, and have said they are willing to take over the operations.

Yet the Taliban has not yet formalised an arrangement with Qatar, the four diplomats said.

A senior Emirati foreign ministry official said the UAE, which previously ran Kabul airport during the US-backed Afghan republic, "remains committed to continuing to assist in operating" it to ensure humanitarian access and safe passage.

Abu Dhabi also aided recent evacuation efforts.

The Taliban and Qatari authorities did not respond to requests for comment.


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