Taliban delegation starts talks in Oslo with Western government officials

Jan 23, 2022: According to a report by Al Jazeera, a Taliban delegation led by acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Mottaqi has begun three days of talks in Oslo with Western government officials and representatives of Afghan civil society.

Taliban representatives will be seen meeting with women’s rights activists and human rights defenders from Afghanistan and the Afghan people at closed-door meetings in the Norwegian capital starting Sunday.

Al Jazeera representative also reported that the delegation will be urged to uphold human rights in exchange for access to billions of dollars in frozen humanitarian aid. He said the West will leverage the $10bn of Afghan money that is held predominantly in the United States, in exchange for assurance the Taliban will fulfill promises related to women’s rights, girls education, civil liberties.

The money will go a long way in ensuring the government can pay civil servants and have enough food as the country battles a humanitarian crisis.

The western delagation will try to put international pressure and use the right kind of activism within Afghanistan, so the Taliban can be pushed towards specific actions.

In their first visit to Europe since returning to power in August, the Taliban will meet Norwegian officials as well as representatives of the US, France, the UK, Germany, Italy and the European Union.

The Taliban spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid said “In Norway, we have a meeting with the US and also with the European Union on matters of mutual interest. And one part of our meetings would be with our Afghan diaspora who are outside the country, especially in Europe,”

“Their ideas, consultations and plans will be heard. This means that meetings for mutual understanding will continue between Afghans.”

No country has yet recognised the Taliban government, and Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt stressed that the talks would “not represent a legitimisation or recognition of the Taliban”.

“But we must talk to the de facto authorities in the country. We cannot allow the political situation to lead to an even worse humanitarian disaster,” Huitfeldt said.

Since the Taliban coming to power, there have been reports of womem journalists being abducted. The Taliban officials, however, have denied beating and arresting women’s rights activists.

Meanwhile, humanitarian crisis is unfolding in Afghanistan and has deteriorated drastically since August.

International aid, which was about 80 percent of the Afghan budget, abruptly stopped, and the United States froze $9.5 billion in Afghan central bank assets. Unemployment is skyrocketing and government employees have not been paid for months, in a country already plagued by severe drought.

According to the United Nations, hunger now threatens 23 million Afghans, or 55 percent of the population, who say 4.4 billion is needed from donor countries this year to address the humanitarian crisis.

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