In the midst of Afghanistan’s deteriorating humanitarian crisis, a Taliban delegation led by acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi began three days of discussions with Western government officials and Afghan civil society groups in Oslo in Norway on Sunday. The Taliban delegation was invited by the Norwegian govt to hold talks on various issues.
The Norwegian Foreign Ministry said on Friday that it has invited representatives of the Taliban to Oslo for a visit from January 23 to 25. However, the govt clarified that it does not imply recognition of the Taliban govt in Afghanistan. The Minister of Foreign Affairs Anniken Huitfeldt said, “It does not in any way imply any recognition of the coup that took place. We will make strong demands on the Taliban, but we do not know if they will implement them afterwards.”
According to the Norwegian Foreign Ministry, “the Taliban will meet representatives of Norwegian authorities and officials from a number of Ally nations” for dialogue on the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan and human rights. The ministry did not confirm who would be there, but Norwegian daily VG said that Britain, the European Union, France, Germany, Italy, and the United States would be among the allies.
Reportedly, discussions on girls’ education and women’s rights will be top of the agenda in the discussions. Taliban has greatly curtailed the rights of women in Afghanistan, and Norwegian govt will demand to restore them.
Taliban government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid has said they are making moves to meet the requests of western nations. He said, “The Islamic Emirate has taken steps to meet the demands of the Western world and we hope to strengthen our relations through diplomatic ways with all countries, including the European countries and the West in general, and to transform the atmosphere of war, which we had previously, into a peaceful situation.”
The Taliban delegation arrived in Oslo on a private jet reportedly paid for by the govt of Norway. They were also joined by Anas Haqqani, the leader of the Sunni Islamist terrorist organization Haqqani Network. However, citizens in Osolo protested against the visit, and questioned why their govt invited an organisation that is blacklisted by the USA.
Following a stalemate on the battlefront, the Taliban reclaimed control of Afghanistan in August as the US and foreign troops initiated their final departure from the country. The trip marks the first time that Taliban leaders are meeting other governments in Europe since the group took control of the nation in August. They had already visited Russia, Iran, Qatar, Pakistan, China, and Turkmenistan.
The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated considerably since August. International assistance has come to a halt, and the US has blocked the Afghan central bank’s assets worth $9.5 billion (£7 billion). Muttaqi is anticipated to emphasize the Taliban’s demand that the US and other Western countries release the frozen funds during the talks.
According to a statement released by the US State Department, a US delegation led by Special Representative for Afghanistan Tom West will discuss the formation of a representative political system, responses to urgent humanitarian and economic crises, security and counterterrorism concerns, and human rights, particularly education for girls and women.
According to the United Nations, starvation presently scares 23 million Afghans, or 55 percent of the population, and the government needs $4.4 billion from donor countries this year to solve the food crisis.