West links Afghan humanitarian aid to human rights - GulfToday

West links Afghan humanitarian aid to human rights


Representatives of the Taliban leave after attending meetings at the Soria Moria hotel in Gardermoen, Norway. Reuters

Gulf Today Report

Three days of talks between the Taliban, Western diplomats and other delegates on humanitarian aid to Afghanistan and human rights were wrapping up Tuesday in Norway, with acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi praising the discussions, which he said "went very well."

The closed-door meetings in the snow-capped mountains above the Norwegian capital of Oslo came at a crucial time for Afghanistan, as freezing temperatures are compounding the misery from the country's downward economic spiral after the fall of the US-backed government and the Taliban takeover last summer.

"It was a very good trip. Such trips will bring us closer to the world,” Muttaqi told the media.


Taliban hold first talks in Europe since Afghan take over

Humanitarian aid tops agenda as Taliban meet Western officials

Aid groups and international agencies estimate that about 23 million people, more than half the country, face severe hunger and nearly 9 million are on the brink of starvation. People have resorted to selling possessions to buy food, burning furniture for warmth and even selling their children.

Meanwhile another reports said, Western diplomats on Tuesday linked humanitarian aid to Afghanistan to an improvement in human rights after meeting a Taliban delegation on a landmark visit to Europe.

On the final day of the Taliban's first official trip to Europe since returning to power in August, the fundamentalists held talks behind closed doors with several Western diplomats.

A boy sells bread at a makeshift shelter for displaced Afghan families, who are fleeing the violence in their provinces, at Shahr-e Naw park, in Kabul, Afghanistan. File/Reuters
More than half the country faces severe hunger and nearly 9 million are on the brink of starvation.

The Taliban are seeking international recognition and financial aid.

Afghanistan's humanitarian situation has rapidly deteriorated since the group returned to power in August 2021, when international aid came to a sudden halt, worsening the plight of millions of people already suffering from hunger after several severe droughts.

Western diplomats laid out what they expected from the Taliban during the talks.

The European Union's special envoy to Afghanistan, Tomas Niklasson, wrote on Twitter 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".

He was responding to a tweet from a spokesman for the Afghan foreign ministry hailing the EU's commitment to "continue its humanitarian aid to Afghanistan".

The Taliban delegation, led by Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, met senior French foreign ministry official Bertrand Lotholary, Britain's special envoy Nigel Casey, and members of the Norwegian foreign ministry.

'Girls back in school'

At the United Nations in New York, Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store said the talks appeared to have been "serious" and "genuine".

Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store speaks during an event. File photo

"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.

The Taliban have hailed this week's talks — held in a hotel near Oslo — as a step toward international recognition.

The Taliban foreign minister, speaking on the sidelines of Monday's talks, said: "Norway providing us this opportunity is an achievement in itself because we shared the stage with the world."

"From these meetings we are sure of getting support for Afghanistan's humanitarian, health and education sectors," he added.

Norway has insisted the talks do "not represent a legitimisation or recognition of the Taliban".

But its decision to invite the group -- and fly them over in a chartered jet at great expense -- has been heavily criticised by some experts, members of the diaspora and Afghan activists.

No country has yet recognised the fundamentalist regime, and the international community is waiting to see how the Taliban intend to govern before releasing aid.




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