Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
January 23, 2022
The first Taliban delegation to visit Europe since returning to power in Afghanistan has begun talks with Afghan civil society members focused on human rights, Norway’s Foreign Ministry says.
Headed by acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, the delegation was to dedicate the first day of their three-day visit to talks with women activists and journalists, among others, before meeting Western diplomats on January 24 and 25.
The Norwegian Foreign Ministry said on January 23 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.”
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.
On January 21, Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt stressed 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 had created “a full-scale humanitarian catastrophe for millions of people” facing starvation in the country.
According to information from the broadcaster NRK, whether or not the Taliban delegation will also talk to Huitfeldt during their visit should depend on how the first meetings go.
A former Afghan minister for mines and fuel who now lives in Norway, Nargis Nehan, told AFP she had declined an invitation to take part.
She said she feared the talks would “normalize the Taliban and…strengthen them, while there is no way that they’ll change.”
“If we look at what happened in the talks of the past three years, the Taliban keep getting what they demand from the international community and the Afghan people, but there is not one single thing that they have delivered from their side,” she said.
The Scandinavian country, home to the Nobel Peace Prize, has in the past been involved in peace efforts in a number of countries, including Mozambique, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Colombia, Israel and the Palestinian Territories, and Syria.
With reporting by AFP and AP
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