In a First, Taliban Delegation Is Heading to Europe

Talks with the US are on the agenda
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 21, 2022 1:53 PM CST
US to Hold Overseas Talks with Taliban
Taliban officials listen as Taliban Prime Minister Mohammad Hasan Akhund speaks during an economic conference at the former Presidential Palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Wednesday.   (Taliban Prime Minister Media Office via AP)

(Newser) – A Taliban delegation will travel to Norway for talks with the Norwegian government and representatives from several allied countries, including the US, per the AP. The Norwegian Foreign Ministry said Friday that it has invited representatives of the Taliban to Oslo from Sunday to Tuesday to hold talks covering humanitarian issues and women's rights, among other topics. Norwegian newspaper VG said that special representatives from the US, Germany, Britain, France, Italy, and the European Union would take part. The Foreign Ministry said the meetings would also include women leaders, journalists, and human rights defenders from Afghanistan.

It would be the first time since the Taliban took over the country last August that they have met in Europe. Earlier they traveled to Russia, Iran, Qatar, Pakistan, China, and Turkmenistan. The acting foreign minister, Amir Khan Muttaqi, will head the Taliban delegation. Zabihullah Mujahid, the deputy culture and information minister, said Muttaqi expects to hold separate meetings with the US delegation as well as bilateral meetings with European representatives. The rights of women and girls are expected to top most agendas, as well as a reoccurring demand of the West for the Taliban administration to share power with Afghanistan's minority ethnic and religious groups.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt stressed that the meeting was "not a legitimation or recognition of the Taliban." But to address "a full-scale humanitarian catastrophe for millions of people" in Afghanistan, "we must talk to those who in practice govern the country today." The United Nations has warned that as many as 1 million Afghan children are in danger of starving, and most of the country's 38 million people are living below the poverty line. Muttaqi is certain to press the Taliban's demand that nearly $10 billion frozen by the US and other Western countries be released. The UN has managed to get some liquidity into the country, even allowing the new administration to pay for imports, like electricity. (Read more Taliban stories.)

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