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‘Turkish troops continue to stay in Afghanistan’: Erdogan

ANKARA, — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday that Turkish troops in Afghanistan will stay there for as long as the Afghan government desires.

“Turkish troops will continue to stay in Afghanistan to ensure permanent domestic peace and stability,” Erdogan told a joint press conference with visiting Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

“Turkey is the greatest supporter of the Afghan national unity government. Afghanistan’s problems are our problems, and their success is our success,” said Erdogan, adding that Turkey will continue to provide development assistance to Afghanistan.

He urged the international community to stand with Afghanistan during its transformation and provide support in terms of development and security.

“I hope that the efforts to establish permanent peace and stability bring success,” Erdogan said, adding that the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan, Turkey and Pakistan will positively affect all three countries.

Turkey deployed troops to Afghanistan following the al-Qaida linked Istanbul bombings in 2003. The troops provides security in the Afghan capital and Wardak Province.

Turkish troops in Afghanistan are not engaged in combat operations despite pressure from the United States to deploy more combat troops.

Early in January, Turkish Parliament approved a mandate that allows Turkish troops to continue serving in the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan.

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