Taliban officials in Oslo for talks on Afghanistan

VRepresentatives of the militant Islamist Taliban traveled to the Norwegian capital Oslo and started talks there about the situation in Afghanistan. The delegation was accommodated in a conference hotel in the north-west of the city, the Norwegian broadcaster NRK reported on Sunday. The Taliban should also meet Afghans, including women, journalists and human rights activists, in the talks scheduled until Tuesday.

It is the first time that the Islamists have taken a delegation to a western country since they seized power in Afghanistan. According to information from the broadcaster NRK, the course of the first meeting will determine whether or not the Taliban will also speak to Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt during their visit. She had previously defended the invitation, arguing that the only way to hold the Taliban accountable for their actions was through dialogue. Her hope is that the situation for women in Afghanistan can be improved through diplomatic efforts.

Acting Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Chan Muttaki said in an audio message before departure that he had been invited to Norway with a 15-strong delegation and would meet Afghans as well as representatives from Norway, the EU, the United States and other countries. He hopes the trip can be the start of a positive relationship between the Taliban and Europe.

Internationally, the meeting was also met with criticism. Afghans protested both in Oslo and in front of Norwegian embassies in London or Toronto, as can be seen from social media videos. The demonstrators accused Norway of courting the Taliban and thus being on the wrong side. Also in Kabul, some women and girls protested in secret and shared a video of it.

In the past, Norway has repeatedly acted as a mediator in conflicts in other countries, most recently in Venezuela. The Scandinavian non-EU country has also been in dialogue with the Taliban for years. A Norwegian delegation traveled to Kabul over the past few days to discuss the difficult humanitarian situation in Afghanistan.

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