The Taliban will form new armed forces including troops from the old regime

OSLO: Human rights and the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, where hunger threatens millions of people, will be at the center of discussions which will open on Sunday in Oslo between the Taliban, the West and members of civil society Afghan.
In their first visit to Europe since returning to power in August, the Taliban will meet Norwegian officials as well as representatives from the United States, France, Britain, Germany, Italy and of the European Union.
The Taliban delegation will be led by Foreign Minister Amir Khan Mutaqqi.
On the agenda will be “the formation of a representative political system, responses to urgent humanitarian and economic crises, security and counter-terrorism issues, and human rights, especially education. girls and women,” a US State Department official said.
Hardline Islamists were toppled in 2001 but quickly regained power in August as international troops began their final withdrawal.
The Taliban hope the talks will help “transform the atmosphere of war (…) into a peaceful situation”, government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP on Saturday.
No country has yet recognized the Taliban government, and Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt stressed that the talks “would not represent legitimization or recognition of the Taliban”.
“But we have to talk to the de facto authorities in the country. We cannot let the political situation lead to an even worse humanitarian catastrophe,” Huitfeldt said.

The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated considerably since August.
International aid, which funded about 80% of the Afghan budget, came to an abrupt halt and the United States froze $9.5 billion in assets at the Afghan central bank.
Unemployment has soared and civil servants’ salaries have not been paid for months in the country already ravaged by several severe droughts.
Hunger now threatens 23 million Afghans, or 55% of the population, according to the UN, which needs 4.4 billion dollars from donor countries this year to deal with the humanitarian crisis.
“It would be a mistake to subject the Afghan people to collective punishment simply because the de facto authorities are not behaving properly,” UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres reiterated on Friday.
A former UN representative in Afghanistan, Kai Eide, told AFP: “We cannot continue to distribute aid by bypassing the Taliban.”
“If you want to be effective, you have to involve the government in some way.”
The international community is waiting to see how the Islamic fundamentalists intend to govern Afghanistan, after having largely flouted human rights during their first stint in power between 1996 and 2001.
While the Taliban claim to have modernized, women are still largely excluded from public employment and secondary schools for girls remain largely closed.

On the first day of the Oslo talks, which are being held behind closed doors, the Taliban delegation is expected to meet with Afghans from civil society, including women leaders and journalists.
A former Afghan mines and oil minister who now lives in Norway, Nargis Nehan, said she declined an invitation to participate.
She told AFP she feared the talks would “normalize the Taliban and (…) strengthen them, when there is no way they will change”.
“If we look at what has happened in the talks over the past three years, the Taliban continue to get what they demand from the international community and the Afghan people, but there is not a single thing that they brought on their side,” she said. .
“What guarantee is there this time that they will keep their promises?” she asked, noting that women activists and journalists are still being arrested.
Davood Moradian, the director of the Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies now based outside Afghanistan, meanwhile criticized Norway’s “celebrity-style” peace initiative.
“Hosting a senior Taliban official casts doubt on Norway’s overall image as a country that cares about women’s rights, when the Taliban effectively instituted gender apartheid,” he said.
Norway has a history of mediating in conflicts, notably in the Middle East, Sri Lanka and Colombia.