Norway says will put 'tangible demands' on Taliban

Norway says will put tangible demands on Taliban

Oslo: Norway said it will put "tangible demands" on the Taliban during talks in Oslo on Tuesday, the last day of the hardline Islamists' controversial first visit to Europe since returning to power in Afghanistan.

A Taliban delegation led by Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi has been in Norway since Saturday for talks focused on humanitarian aid to Afghanistan.

The country's humanitarian situation has rapidly deteriorated since the Taliban returned to power in August 2021, when international aid came to a sudden halt and worsened the plight of millions of people suffering from hunger after several severe droughts.

The Taliban delegation met members of Afghan civil society on Sunday, followed by Western diplomats on Monday.

They were to conclude their visit on Tuesday with meetings with a Norwegian political official and non-governmental organisations.

"This is not the beginning of an... open-ended process", said state secretary Henrik Thune, who was to sit down with the delegation Tuesday.

"We are going to place tangible demands that we can follow up on and see if they have been met", he told Norwegian news agency NTB.

The demands will include the possibility of providing humanitarian aid directly to the Afghan people, according to NTB.

It will call for human rights to be respected, in particular those of women and minorities, such as access to education and health services, the right to work, and freedom of movement.

Missing women activists

While the Islamists claim to have modernised, women are still largely excluded from public-sector employment and most secondary schools for girls remain closed.

Norway is also expected to raise the plight of two women activists who went missing in Kabul last week after taking part in a demonstration. The Taliban have denied responsibility.

The Taliban were toppled in 2001 but stormed back to power in August as US-led forces began withdrawing.

They view this week's talks -- held behind closed doors in a hotel near Oslo -- as a step toward international recognition and the unblocking of financial aid.

"Norway providing us this opportunity is an achievement in itself because we shared the stage with the world," Foreign Minister Muttaqi said.

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