By Peter McLaren-Kennedy • 23 January 2022 • 13:10
Taliban enforces beards, loose local clothing, segregation
A delegation led by Taliban Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi has in Norway to begin talks with western government officials and Afghan civil society amid a worsening humanitarian crises in the country.
The three days of discussions are taking place behind closed doors at a hotel in the snow-capped mountains above the Norwegian capital Oslo.
Day one will see the Taliban representatives meeting with women’s rights activists and human rights defenders from Afghanistan and Afghan diaspora.
The Taliban’s deputy minister of culture and information, tweeted a voice message in which he expressed hopes for “a good trip full of achievements.” He goes on to thank Norway, who he hopes will become a gateway for improved relations with Europe.
This is the first trip the Taliban have taken to the west with representatives having held meeting sin Russia, Iran, Qatar, Pakistan, China and Turkmenistan.
It is likely that the Taliban will press for the release of assets frozen by western countries and the USA, with $10 billion currently being held back.
Some liquidity has been provided by the United Nations to allow the administration to pay for some critical imports, including electricity. In doing so they have warned that almost the entire population of 38 million people are living below the poverty line and as many as one million people are starving.
The Norwegian Foreign Ministry said the Taliban delegation would also meet with 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 in support of the Afghan people,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
A U.S. delegation, led by Special Representative for Afghanistan Tom West, plans to discuss “the formation of a representative political system; responses to the urgent humanitarian and economic crises; security and counterterrorism concerns; and human rights, especially education for girls and women,” according to a statement released by the U.S. State Department.
Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt stressed Friday 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,” Huitfeldt said, noting that economic and political conditions have created “a full-scale humanitarian catastrophe for millions of people” facing starvation in the country.
Norway is no stranger to sensitive diplomacy and has in the past been involved in peace efforts in some of the most difficult parts of the world including Afghanistan, Venezuela, Colombia, the Philippines, Israel and the Palestinian Territories, Syria, Myanmar, Somalia, Sri Lanka and South Sudan.
The hope is that Norway will be able to weave its magic as talks begin with the Taliban, although not many are hopeful of any satisfactory resolutions with the organisation and its detractors worlds apart.
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Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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