Three representatives of the extreme Islamist movement Taliban, which represents the government in Afghanistan, are visiting Norway at the invitation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to participate in a peace conference, VG reports.
They live at Losby Gods and will participate in the conference Oslo Forum, which is organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirms VG’s information.
Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt, who also gave the Taliban VIP treatment in Norway a year and a half ago, clarifies that the guests are not top politicians:
We have invited three people from the civil service in Kabul to participate in this year’s Oslo Forum. They are not from the political leadership of the Taliban. At the forum, they will meet Afghan civil society and representatives from other countries to talk about the major challenges in Afghanistan, writes Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt in a written reply to VG.
Huitfeldt believes that it plays a role for people in Afghanistan what the Norwegian government does vis-à-vis the Taliban:
It is in the interest of the Afghan people that we hold the Taliban responsible for the situation in the country. It is in Norway’s interest that Afghanistan does not again become a breeding ground for terrorism, Huitfeldt explains.
Isolating Afghanistan now will be unfortunate, both for the Afghan people and for us. It could worsen the situation for the Afghan people and it could lead to terrorist groups such as IS building up in the country. It would also increase the security threat in Europe.
The Foreign Service believes that it is possible to influence the Islamist movement:
The Foreign Ministry believes that the meetings are an opportunity to influence the Taliban in two areas:
- The critical humanitarian situation in the country
- Hold the Taliban accountable for human rights abuses.
Previous broken promises by the Taliban have not shaken the optimism.
Huitfeldt has previously explained to VG that she believes the Taliban are divided in their view of women’s participation. The hope is that by having contact with the moderates within the movement, their position can be strengthened.