Oslo, 23 January 2022 (dpa/MIA) – Representatives of the hardline Islamist Taliban have travelled to the Norwegian capital Oslo to begin their talks on the situation in Afghanistan.
The delegation arrived at a conference hotel in the north-west of the city, Norwegian broadcaster NRK reported on Sunday.
At the talks, which are scheduled to last until Tuesday, the Taliban were also expected to meet Afghans, including women, journalists and human rights activists.
It is the first time the Islamists have travelled to a Western country with a delegation since seizing power in Afghanistan last year.
According to information from the broadcaster NRK, whether or not the Taliban will also talk to Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt during their visit should depend on how the first meetings go.
She had previously defended the invitation, arguing that the Taliban could only be held accountable for their actions through dialogue. Her hope is that the situation for women in Afghanistan can be improved through diplomatic efforts.
Acting Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi said in an audio message before departure that he had been invited to Norway with a 15-member delegation and would meet with representatives of Norway, the EU, the US and other countries as well as Afghans.
He said he hoped the trip could be the beginning of a positive relationship between the Taliban and Europe.
Internationally, the meeting has also met with criticism.
Afghans protested both in Oslo and in front of Norwegian embassies in London and Toronto, according to social media videos widely shared in the Afghan community.
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.
Norway has repeatedly acted as a mediator in conflicts in other countries in the past, most recently in Venezuela, among others.
The non-EU Scandinavian country has also been in dialogue with the Taliban for years. A Norwegian delegation travelled to Kabul this week for talks on the difficult humanitarian situation in Afghanistan.