Correspondent in Berlin
The images of the evacuation of Kabul have remained in the collective consciousness of the West as a symbol of a failure that Oslo is beginning to try to remedy today. A high-level delegation from the Taliban government, led by Afghan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, has been invited to three days of meetings with representatives of the international community, sent by the United States and the European Union. This dialogue with the self-proclaimed Islamic Emirate is dressed as an attempt to improve the human rights situation in Afghanistan and for this reason the presence of several humanitarian agencies operating in the country has been planned, but the negotiators also come with much more prosaic in your agenda.
The Islamists are scheduled to discuss the frozen assets with the US delegation, the end of the blacklist and the bilateral relations between the two States, as well as to express their complaints about the guilt of these interlocutors in the humanitarian crisis that Afghanistan is experiencing, which they attribute to the suspension of funds for reconstruction. Since last August, international aid, which financed about 80% of the Afghan state budget, has been withheld. The US has frozen 9,500 million dollars of assets that the Afghan Central Bank was guarding in its territory and voices are being heard from the UN in favor of a thaw. “It would be a mistake to inflict collective punishment on the Afghan population just because the authorities on duty are not behaving well,” said the Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres, who recalled that 55% of the population is going hungry.
The Afghan government delegation will meet throughout the day with the US and EU envoys, to move on to bilateral contacts with the Norwegian authorities on Tuesday. The US State Department has published as items on the agenda “the formation of a representative political system, the response to the humanitarian and economic crisis, concerns about security and terrorism, in addition to human rights and in particular the education of girls”. and women in Afghanistan.
The United States and the EU insist that “these meetings do not imply a legitimization or recognition of the Taliban” and point out that “we must dialogue with the authorities to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe”, in the words of the Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huifeldt, host of the event in the purest mediating diplomatic tradition of the Nordic country. “It is about establishing a reset of the situation that benefits everyone in which Norway lends itself with its best will and as neutral territory, away from the centers of tension”, explains a Norwegian diplomat, “when the parties get closer, when there is a personal face-to-face, a first step towards understanding has always already been taken”.
“Break the ice”
The first photographs have been taken by the Taliban with members of Afghan civil society, also invited to the Norwegian capital and including local journalists and feminist leaders such as Jamila Afgani, who declared that “the first meeting was productive to break the ice». “All Afghans must work together for the political, economic and security improvement of the country,” Taliban government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid tweeted alongside the photo and in what he presented as “a joint statement.”
Mujahid reports that the Afghan minister will expose in the talks, during the next three days, that “millions of people are threatened by hunger in a country deprived of international aid and affected by drought”, it is understood that with the intention of obtaining aid economic. Although the Government of Afghanistan maintains its ambition to end up being officially recognized as a legitimate interlocutor by Western countries, its priority right now is financial aid. But the hundreds of demonstrators who gathered last night in front of the Foreign Ministry in Oslo interpret this meeting as a step towards that recognition, no matter how informal it may be.
“Taliban terrorists!” or “Free the Afghan people from the Taliban” were some of the slogans that could be read on their banners. Especially criticized in this demonstration was the fact that the Afghan delegation, whose 15 members have flown on a plane chartered by Norway, included Anas Haqqani, one of the heads of the Haqqani Network, considered a terrorist group according to the US classification. USA and responsible for several bloody attacks in Afghanistan. Nargis Nehan, a former Afghan Minister of Oil and Mines and who lives as a political refugee in Norway, has refused to participate in these contacts and has warned against the effects of “normalizing the Taliban as interlocutors, which will only serve to strengthen them because they will in They make the promises necessary to obtain money that they are then determined not to keep.