Oslo talks; West presses Taliban on rights, girls education

Western diplomats have told the Taliban that humanitarian aid to Afghanistan will be tied to an improvement in human rights.

Western diplomats have told the Taliban that humanitarian aid to Afghanistan will be tied to an improvement in 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.

Taliban has said three days of discussions by its delegates with Western diplomats in Norway went “very well.”

“It was a very good trip, such trips will bring us closer to the world,” Acting Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi told the AP news agency at the end of three days of meetings that focused on humanitarian aid to Afghanistan and human rights.

Taliban is seeking international recognition following the group’s return to power on August 15, 2021. Afghanistan found itself cut off from international financial institutions after Taliban’s return, triggering a banking crisis and fears the war-battered economy will collapse.

The country’s humanitarian situation has rapidly deteriorated since then, worsening the plight of millions of people already suffering hunger after severe droughts after decades of war and occupation. Some 55 percent of the Afghan population is now suffering from hunger, according to the United Nations.

The European Union’s special envoy to Afghanistan, Tomas Niklasson, said 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.”

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.

Store 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.”