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Taliban officials hold first peace talks in Europe since Kabul takeover

On Sunday, the Taliban and western officials have begun their first official discussions in Europe, first time after taking control of Afghanistan in August.

The closed-door sessions took place at a hotel in the Norwegian capital’s snow-capped mountains. As Afghanistan faces a dire humanitarian scenario, Taliban leaders will undoubtedly urge their demand for the release of roughly $10 billion frozen by the US and other Western countries.

On Sunday night, Taliban representative Shafiullah Azam said, “We are begging them to unfreeze Afghan assets and not punish regular Afghans because of the political debate.” “I believe it is time for the international community to support Afghans rather than penalise them because of their political differences, because of the famine and the harsh winter.”

Prior to the meetings, western diplomats met with Afghan women’s rights activists and human rights defenders to hear about their demands and assessments of the present reality on the ground from civil society in Afghanistan and the Afghan diaspora. Representatives from the EU, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and the meeting’s hosts Norway were in attendance.

Women’s rights activist Heda Khamoush, who resides in Kabul, stood motionless as participants gathered, holding up images of Tamana Zaryabi Paryani and Parwana Ibrahimkhel, two women imprisoned by the Taliban last week during an anti-Taliban rally against the Islamic headscarf, or hijab, for women. Since then, they haven’t been seen.


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