A delegation of senior Taliban officials and representatives has travelled to Norway to hold talks in an effort to free $10 billion of Afghanistan’s frozen assets.
The delegation, led by acting Foreign Minister, Amir Khan Muttaqi, arrived in Norway’s capital, Oslo, yesterday to begin the three days of talks with Western government officials and Afghan civil society representatives.
According to the Taliban’s spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, the new Afghan government will meet and talk “with the US and also with the European Union on matters of mutual interest. And one part of our meetings would be with our Afghan diaspora who are outside the country, especially in Europe”.
Mujahid added that “Their ideas, consultations and plans will be heard. This means that meetings for mutual understanding will continue between Afghans.”
After the Taliban took over Afghanistan in August last year, Western nations froze the country’s assets and funds abroad, which amounted to around $10 billion in Afghanistan’s wealth being made inaccessible to the new government.
The freezing of the assets has resulted in a severe humanitarian crisis in the country, with over half of its population at risk of starvation and a lack of vital resources. Receiving and extracting money was also an issue, making employers in Afghanistan unable to pay their employees.
Despite repeated calls by the Taliban and its government for Western governments to release the frozen funds, little progress has been made so far, and no country has yet officially recognised the new Afghan government.
According to Norwegian Foreign Minister, Anniken Huitfeldt, the talks in Oslo would “not represent a legitimisation or recognition of the Taliban”. She acknowledged, however, that “we must talk to the de facto authorities in the country. We cannot allow the political situation to lead to an even worse humanitarian disaster”.