Afghan delegation meet Western officials, humanitarian aid is priority
Taliban’s meeting with Norwegian officials is a step that might lead to opening lifesaving channels for Afghans.
Human rights and the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, where millions face starvation, will be on the agenda of talks beginning Sunday in Oslo between the Taliban, the West, and Afghan civil society members.
The Taliban will meet Norwegian officials as well as representatives from the United States, France, Britain, Germany, Italy, and the European Union during their first visit to Europe since the US hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Foreign Minister Amir Khan Mutaqqi will lead the Afghan delegation.
According to a US State Department official, the agenda will include "the formation of a representative political system, responses to urgent humanitarian and economic crises, security and counter-terrorism concerns, and human rights, particularly education for girls and women."
Afghan government spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP on Saturday that the Taliban hope that the talks will help "transform the atmosphere of war... into a peaceful situation".
No country has yet recognized the Taliban government, and Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt has stated that the talks will "not represent a legitimization 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 added.
The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated drastically since the US imposed maximum pressure upon the whole population through punitive sanctions after its hasty withdrawal. The measures included the freezing of Afghanistan's Central Bank assets worth $9.5 billion and as a result, the country is no longer receiving international aid or support.
Famine now threatens the lives of 23 million Afghans, or 55 percent of the population, according to the United Nations, which says it needs $4.4 billion from donor countries this year to address the humanitarian crisis.
Taliban’s meeting with Norwegian officials is an interesting step that might lead to a much-needed agreement that will open lifesaving channels for the populace.