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taliban: Desperate Taliban seeks global recognition through Oslo meet; Russia denies hosting Taliban leaders


Taliban, failing to achieve global recognition, has launched a global outreach with members of the Taliban meeting Western officials in Norway for the first talks in Europe since the group took control of Afghanistan. The closed-door discussions with representatives of the United States, France, Britain, Germany, Italy, the European Union and Norway are being held on Monday at the Soria Moria Hotel, outside Oslo.

The talks, set to last three days, will cover human rights and the humanitarian crisis in the country. The UN says 95% of Afghans do not have enough to eat. On Sunday, during the first day of the three-day talks, the Taliban met with Afghan civil society members, including women activists and journalists, for talks on human rights. Women’s rights activist Jamila Afghani, who attended Sunday’s talks, told the AFP news agency “it was a positive icebreaking meeting”.

Simultaneously, few Taliban leaders including Mullah Baradar who was face of Taliban in Doha round of talks are reportedly in Moscow. Baradar is believed to be the second Taliban leader to visit Moscow in recent weeks. However, Russian Special Representative on Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov has denied this. Kabulov claimed that no visit by the Taliban, which continues to be banned in Russia, is being planned or some such formulations.

Russia remains worried about the spread of radicals in Eurasia from Afghanistan besides possible civil war type situation in Afghanistan & its impact into Central Asia. The terror attacks in Kazakhstan with links in Af-Pak region-West Asia-Turkey was closely monitored by Moscow. The Taliban has been demanding that its assets of nearly $10bn held by the US be released and Afghanistan be linked to global trade.

It is also seeking international recognition and Pakistan has been desperate to enable such. Taliban also approached China to secure international recognition. “We are requesting them to unfreeze Afghan assets and not punish ordinary Afghans because of the political discourse,” Taliban delegate Shafiullah Azam told The Associated Press news agency, speaking at the end of the first day of talks in Norway.

He also said the meetings with Western officials were “a step to legitimise (the) Afghan government”, adding that “this type of invitation and communication will help (the) European community, (the) US or many other countries to erase the wrong picture of the Afghan government”.

But Russia, India, Central Asian states besides Iran are opposed to providing recognition to the Taliban regime in the absence of an inclusive regime. Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt had earlier stressed that the talks were “not a legitimation or recognition of the Taliban”. On Sunday, 200 protesters gathered on an icy square in front of the Norwegian foreign ministry in Oslo to condemn the meetings with the Taliban.


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