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Afghanistan: Taliban meet with Western officials in Oslo
The international community is increasingly reaching out to the Taliban in recent weeks as they seek to provide assistance to Afghanistan. Officials from western countries met with members of the insurgent group this week in Oslo to discuss Afghanistan.
The delegation of both western countries and the Taliban held a meeting in Oslo, Norway, for discussions centered on the humanitarian crisis Afghanistan is currently facing. The crisis worsened when the insurgent group took control of Afghanistan back in August 2021 at the heels of the US military withdrawal and evacuation efforts.
The Taliban held closed-door discussions with diplomats from the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, and the European Union Monday, as part of the three days of discussions. Prior to the meeting with diplomats, the insurgent group met with Afghan civil society members, including women activists and journalists. Human rights were on the agenda during their meeting.
This comes as the Taliban has demanded that the US unfreeze Afghanistan’s assets of nearly $10 billion. International monetary institutions have also halted payments to Afghanistan following the Taliban’s takeover. This has sent the country into a banking crisis and a near collapse of Afghanistan’s economy.
“We are requesting them to unfreeze Afghan assets and not punish ordinary Afghans because of the political discourse,” Taliban official Shafiiullah Azam told the Associated Press after the first day of the discussions.
“Because of the starvation, because of the deadly winter, I think it’s time for the international community to support Afghans, not punish them because of their political disputes,” added Azam. The official added that the discussions with the western countries were a step towards legitimizing the Taliban-backed Afghan government and that the discussions will help the international community improve the world’s impression of the new Afghan government.
In other related news, VOA reports that the Citibank accounts of the Afghan Embassy in Washington and two Afghan consulates in the US have been suspended for over a month. While the Afghan mission in Washington does not receive money from Kabul, it has gotten by through consular service fees. The consulates have been renewing expired passports but have run out of issuing new passports as checks can no longer be made out to the Afghanistan Embassy.