SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association)
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Afghanistan Saturday, the latest world leader to visit the war-ravaged country since President Ashraf Ghani took power after a prolonged political standoff.
Erdogan met Ghani, his first vice president Abdul Rashid Dostum, and his former poll rival Abdullah Abdullah, who took the new role of “chief executive”.
The two leaders later appeared in a joint press conference after signing an agreement on closer bilateral relationship between the two countries.
President Ashraf Ghani awarded Recep Tayyip Erdogan with Afghanistan´s “highest civil medal” describing Turkey as “an example of peace and stability in the world of Islam”.
During his one-day tour Erdogan was also set to visit Turkish troops based in Afghanistan.
Ghani was sworn in as the new Afghan president in late September after a fraud-tainted election that had plunged Afghanistan into months of political deadlock and threatened to take it on the brink of civil war.
Turkey, which shares religious, historic and cultural ties with Afghanistan, in particular with the Afghan Uzbek community, is also involved in NATO operations with around 390 soldiers and trainers based in the country.
Turkey has refused to take on any combat missions in Afghanistan, fearing a Muslim backlash, with its troops primarily involved in providing security, reconstruction and training.
Turkey has been cited as a potential mediator for negotiations between Kabul and the Taliban insurgents.
British Prime Minister David Cameron visited Afghanistan early this month to hold talks with Ghani as NATO-led International troops end their long war against the Taliban.
About 40,000 NATO troops are serving in Afghanistan, but their combat mission is scheduled to finish at the end of this year.
NATO´s follow-up mission, which will take over on January 1, will be made up of 9,800 US troops and about 3,000 soldiers from Germany, Italy and other member nations, among them Turkey.
The new mission — named ´Resolute Support´ — will focus on supporting Afghan forces as they take on the militants, in parallel with US counter-terrorism operations.