Politics, Europe, Asia - Pacific

Concerned over 'grave situation' in Afghanistan, Norway set to host talks with Taliban

Taliban to meet Norwegian authorities, representatives of international community and other Afghans in Oslo, Jan. 23-25

Merve Aydogan   | 21.01.2022
Concerned over 'grave situation' in Afghanistan, Norway set to host talks with Taliban

ANKARA

Concerned about the "grave" humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, Norway is hosting Taliban representatives for talks in Oslo on Jan. 23-25, the Norwegian Foreign Ministry said on Friday.

In a statement, it said the Taliban, who have taken power in Afghanistan, have been invited for "meetings with the Norwegian authorities and representatives of the international community, as well as with other Afghans from a range of fields within civil society."

Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt said her country is "extremely concerned about the grave situation in Afghanistan, where millions of people are facing a full-blown humanitarian disaster."

"In order to be able to help the civilian population in Afghanistan, it is essential that both the international community and Afghans from various parts of society engage in dialogue with the Taliban," she added.

She said Norway will convey its expectations from Afghanistan's interim government, particularly on "girls’ education and human rights, such as women’s right to participate in society."

The minister said the meetings "do not represent a legitimization or recognition of the Taliban" but "we must talk to the de facto authorities in the country. We cannot allow the political situation to lead to an even worse humanitarian disaster."

Afghan women leaders, journalists, and individuals working to safeguard human rights and address humanitarian, economic, social and political issues will join the meetings.

"One of the key principles underpinning Norway’s peace and reconciliation efforts is the willingness to talk to all parties. Norway has been in dialogue with the Taliban for many years," the readout said.

Abdul Qahar Balkhi, a Taliban spokesman, said a senior delegation led by acting Foreign Minister Amir Muttaqi will leave for the Norwegian capital on Saturday.

Taliban regained power in August 2021 amid the withdrawal of foreign forces and collapse of the US-backed government. The interim administration, however, has yet to gain international recognition.

While international funding remains largely suspended, billions of dollars of the country’s assets abroad, mostly in the US, are also frozen.

According to the UN humanitarian coordination office OCHA, half the population now faces acute hunger, over nine million people have been displaced and millions of children are out of school.

The UN and its partners have launched a $4.4 billion funding appeal to avert a humanitarian catastrophe in Afghanistan in 2022.

"Humanitarian assistance, while essential, is not enough. We must prevent a collapse in basic services such as health and education. We must support the livelihoods of families and communities. This could reduce the number of people needing humanitarian assistance," Huitfeldt said.

Earlier this week, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkiye is "not turning a deaf ear to the challenges in Afghanistan," and is preparing to send a "charity train" carrying 700 tons of food, clothing and health supplies to the war-torn country.

He said Afghans are suffering due to years of internal conflict, the termination of foreign aid, drought, and harsh weather conditions.

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