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Taliban say Oslo talks with West will ‘transform atmosphere of war’

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The Taliban's first official talks with the West on European soil since they took power in Afghanistan will help
Taliban say Oslo talks with West will ‘transform atmosphere of war’

The Taliban’s first official talks with the West on European soil since they took power in Afghanistan will help “transform the atmosphere of war” after a two-decade insurgency against NATO forces, the top Taliban told AFP on Saturday. group spokesperson.

Hardline Islamists returned to power in August as US-and foreign troops began their final withdrawal from the country following a battlefield stalemate.

No country has yet recognized the Taliban government, known for human rights abuses during a first term in power between 1996 and 2001, when they were toppled by a US-led invasion.

“The Islamic Emirate has taken steps to meet the demands of the Western world and we hope to strengthen our relations through diplomacy with all countries, including European countries and the West in general,” Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP on Saturday.

The Taliban want to “transform the atmosphere of war…into a peaceful situation.”

Talks between the Taliban and Western officials are due to start in Oslo on Sunday on human rights and humanitarian aid as the poverty crisis deepens.

The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan has drastically deteriorated since the Taliban took power. International aid came to a sudden halt and the United States froze $9.5bn (€8.4bn) in Afghan central bank assets abroad.

Hunger now threatens 23 million Afghans, or 55 percent of the population, according to the United Nations, which says it needs $5 billion from donor countries this year to address the humanitarian crisis in the country.

The visit from Sunday to Tuesday will see meetings between Islamist hardliners, Norwegian authorities and officials from several allied countries, including Britain, the European Union, France, Germany, Italy and the United States, the Norwegian Foreign Ministry statement said. .

The Taliban delegation is also expected to meet with Afghans from civil society, including women leaders and journalists, at a time when the freedoms of those living in Afghanistan are increasingly restricted.

“These meetings do not represent a legitimization or recognition of the Taliban,” Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt said on Friday.

“But we need to talk to the de facto authorities in the country. We cannot allow the political situation to lead to an even worse humanitarian disaster.”

The 15-member, all-male Taliban team, led by Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, left Kabul on Saturday on a plane arranged by the Norwegian government, a Taliban spokesman said.

Ali Maisam Nazary, head of foreign relations for the National Resistance Front (NRF), an opposition group that bills itself as the last bastion against total Taliban control, condemned Norway for the talks.

“We must all raise our voices and prevent any country from normalizing a terrorist group as a proxy for Afghanistan,” Nazary, who is based in Paris, tweeted on Friday.

Source Credit: TheGuardian

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