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Peace talks with Taliban begin in Norway


In the midst of a deteriorating humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, a Taliban team led by acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi began three days of negotiations in Oslo with Western government officials and Afghan civil society groups on Sunday.

The closed-door meetings are taking place in a hotel in the Norwegian capital’s snow-capped mountains. Taliban representatives will meet with women’s rights activists and human rights defenders from Afghanistan and the Afghan diaspora on the first day.

Before the talks, the Taliban’s deputy minister of culture and information tweeted a voice message in which he said was from Muttaqi, wishing for “a successful trip” and thanking Norway, which he believes would become “a portal for a positive connection with Europe.”

The trip marks the first time that Taliban representatives have met in Europe since the group took control of the nation in August. They had already visited Russia, Iran, Qatar, Pakistan, China, and Turkmenistan.

During the talks, Muttaqi is expected to stress the Taliban’s demand that the US and other Western countries release roughly $10 billion in blocked funds, as Afghanistan faces a dire humanitarian situation.

The UN has managed to give some liquidity and allowed the new administration to pay for imports, including power, but it has warned that up to 1 million Afghan children are at risk of starvation, and the majority of the country’s 38 million inhabitants live in poverty.

The Taliban team will also meet with Afghans in Norway, including “women leaders, journalists, and others who work with human rights and humanitarian, economic, social, and political concerns,” according to the Norwegian Foreign Ministry.

In a statement, the Foreign Ministry said, “Norway continues to engage in discussion with the Taliban to promote human rights, women’s involvement in society, and to strengthen humanitarian and economic initiatives in Afghanistan in support of the Afghan people.”

According to a statement from the US State Department, a delegation led by Special Representative for Afghanistan Tom West will discuss “the formation of a representative political system; responses to the urgent humanitarian and economic crises; security and counterterrorism concerns; and human rights, particularly education for girls and women.”


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