We're Live Bangla Wednesday, June 07, 2023

Taliban praises 'very well' meeting with Western diplomats in Norway

Three Days Of Talks Between The Taliban, Western Officials And Other Delegates End In Oslo With A Focus On Humanitarian Aid To Afghanistan And Human Rights.


Taliban is demanding that $10 billion frozen by the United States and other Western countries be released, but there is no agreement on that so far. (Reuters)

Taliban has said three days of discussions by its delegates with Western diplomats in Norway went "very well" while the latter said they linked humanitarian aid to Afghanistan to an improvement in human rights after meeting the Afghan delegation on a landmark visit to Europe.

On Tuesday, the final day of the Taliban's first official trip to Europe since returning to power in August, the group held talks behind closed doors with several Western diplomats.

Acting Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi praised talks that he said: "went very well".

"It was a very good trip, such trips will bring us closer to the world," he told the AP news agency at the end of three days of meetings that focused on humanitarian aid to Afghanistan and human rights.

Muttaqi said the Taliban government will do "its best to protect Afghanistan from any sorts of problems, attract more assistance, seeking solutions for the economic problems."

The new Afghan rulers told The Associated Press last week they aim to have schools open for girls and women in late March, after the Afghan new year. They repeated that promise in Oslo, according to the head of the Norwegian Refugee Council, Jan Egeland, who met with the Taliban delegation led by Muttaqi.

Taliban seeks $10 billion frozen funds

The European Union's special envoy to Afghanistan, Tomas Niklasson, wrote on Twitter that he had "underlined the need for primary and secondary schools to be accessible for boys and girls throughout the country when the school year starts in March".

He was responding to a tweet from a spokesman for the Afghan Foreign Ministry hailing the EU's commitment to "continue its humanitarian aid to Afghanistan".

The Taliban delegation met senior French Foreign Ministry official Bertrand Lotholary, Britain's special envoy Nigel Casey, and members of the Norwegian Foreign Ministry.

The Taliban is seeking international recognition and financial aid.

Read Also: Imran Khan’s Afghan relief fund faces fire on all fronts

Afghanistan's humanitarian situation has rapidly deteriorated since the Taliban returned to power in August 2021 and Western countries blocked billions of dollars of Afghan assets, worsening the plight of millions of people already suffering from hunger after several severe droughts.

The Taliban is demanding that $10 billion frozen by the United States and other Western countries be released, but there is no agreement on that so far.

The United Nations has managed to provide some liquidity and allowed the Taliban administration to pay for imports, including electricity.

Humanitarian demands should be met

At the United Nations in New York, Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store said the talks appeared to have been "serious" and "genuine".

"We made clear we want to see girls back in school in March, also those above 12. We want to see humanitarian access," he said.

No country has yet recognised the Taliban rule, and the international community is waiting to see how the Taliban intends to govern before releasing aid.

The Norwegian prime minister said he knew many were troubled by the meeting in Oslo, but said it was a first step to avoid "humanitarian disaster".

"The alternative to leave Afghanistan, one million children, at the danger of starving... that is no option. We have to deal with the world as it is."

Half of population suffering from hunger 

Meanwhile, Egeland told the AFP news agency before sitting down with the Taliban and other non-governmental organisations: "We cannot save lives unless all the sanctions are lifted."

Freezing aid is "hurting the same civilians that the NATO countries spent hundreds of billions on defending until August", he said.

Some 55 percent of the Afghan population is now suffering from hunger, according to the United Nations.

In Oslo, a Western observer at the talks told AFP "there were some incremental shifts on both sides".

"But I think we're going to need more of these meetings before the Taliban and the West find a way of dealing with each other".