OSLO(AFP) – The Taliban will have discussions with Western authorities on human rights and humanitarian relief in Oslo next week, in their first formal visit to the West since regaining power, the Norwegian and Taliban governments said Friday.
The visit, which will last from Sunday to Tuesday, will include meetings with “Norwegian authorities and officials from a number of allied countries,” including the United Kingdom, the European Union, France, Germany, Italy, and the United States, according to the statement.
“We are deeply worried about the dire situation in Afghanistan, where millions of people face a full-fledged humanitarian crisis,” said Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt.
Last summer, the Taliban surged back to power in Afghanistan as international soldiers departed after a two-decade presence.
In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, a US-led invasion in late 2001 overthrew the Taliban.
Since August, the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated dramatically. International help has been halted, and the US has frozen $9.5 billion (8.4 billion euros) in assets held by the Afghan central bank.
According to the United Nations, famine currently threatens 23 million Afghans, or 55 percent of the population, and the country need $5 billion from donor countries this year to handle the humanitarian situation.
According to the Taliban, the mission would be led by Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi.
“This (visit) would pave the road for conversations, consultations, and understanding with European Union nations,” government spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP.
Talks would also take place with Washington representatives on “pending concerns,” such as the release of the frozen cash, he noted.