Taliban begin talks in Norway as hunger stalks Afghanistan

23 January 2022, 18:24

Norway Afghanistan Taliban
Norway Afghanistan Taliban. Picture: PA

The closed-door meetings are taking place at a hotel in the snow-capped mountains above the Norwegian capital.

A Taliban delegation led by acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi has started three days of talks in Oslo with Western officials and Afghan civil society representatives amid a deteriorating humanitarian situation in Afghanistan.

The closed-door meetings are taking place at a hotel in the snow-capped mountains above the Norwegian capital. On Sunday, Taliban representatives were due to meet women’s rights activists and human rights defenders from Afghanistan and from the Afghan diaspora.

The trip is the first time since the Taliban took over in August that their representatives have held official meetings in Europe, although they have travelled to Russia, Iran, Qatar, Pakistan, China and Turkmenistan.

Norway Taliban
Representatives of the Taliban arrive to Gardermoen, Norway, for talks with the Norwegian government and allied countries (Terje Bendiksby/NTB scanpix/AP)

During the talks, Muttaqi is certain to press the Taliban’s demand that nearly 10 billion dollars frozen by the United States and other Western countries be released as Afghanistan faces a precarious humanitarian situation.

The United Nations has managed to provide some liquidity and allowed the new administration to pay for imports, including electricity. But the UN has warned that as many as one million Afghan children are in danger of starving and most of the country’s 38 million people are living below the poverty line.

The Norwegian Foreign Ministry said the Taliban delegation would also meet Afghans in Norway, including “women leaders, journalists and people who work with, among other things, human rights and humanitarian, economic, social and political issues”.

“Norway continues to engage in dialogue with the Taliban to promote human rights, women’s participation in society, and to strengthen humanitarian and economic efforts in Afghanistan,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

On Friday, Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt stressed that the visit was “not a legitimation or recognition of the Taliban. But we must talk to those who in practice govern the country today.”

“We are extremely concerned about the serious situation in Afghanistan,” Ms Huitfeldt said, noting that economic and political conditions have created “a full-scale humanitarian catastrophe for millions of people” facing starvation in the country.

Holding the talks has created some controversy in Norway, a NATO country involved in Afghanistan from 2001 until the Taliban takeover last summer.

“The Taliban has not changed as some in the international community like to say,” said Ahman Yasir, a Norwegian Afghan living in Norway for around two decades. “They are as brutal as they were in 2001 and before.”

By Press Association

Latest World News

See more Latest World News

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka closes schools and limits work amid fuel shortage

Anthony Albanese and Scott Morrison

Australia set to go to the polls in expected close election

California fire

Man jailed for 24 years over wildfire that killed 12 condors

Kharkiv scenes

Russian troops ‘likely to redeploy from Mariupol’

Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks

US accuses Russia of holding world hostage over food amid Ukraine invasion

Nancy Pelosi has issued a warning about the Northern Ireland protocol

Nancy Pelosi threatens to block US/UK trade deal over Northern Ireland Protocol plans

Bush Iraq

George W Bush under fire over ‘brutal’ Iraq invasion slip-up

Ellen Barkin's recorded testimony from 2019 was played in court on Thursday

'Jealous and controlling' Depp threw wine bottle across the room during fight, says ex

Greece Obit Vangelis

‘The world has lost a genius’ – worlds of music and film mourn composer Vangelis

Biden

Joe Biden backs Nato applications from Sweden and Finland

Switzerland Britain Rwanda

Rwandan and UK ministers defend asylum seeker plans after UN criticism

Vangelis

Chariots Of Fire composer Vangelis dies aged 79

Election 2022 Congress

Senate backs huge military and economic aid package for Ukraine

Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg gestures as he attends a meeting at Kastellet in Copenhagen, Denmark

Nato addressing Turkey’s concerns over Sweden and Finland – Stoltenberg

The oldest of Moscow’s McDonald’s outlets

McDonald’s era in Russia coming to a close as restaurants sold

Payton Gendron is led into the courtroom for a hearing at Erie County Court in Buffalo, New York

Teenager in court over Buffalo supermarket shooting