Afghanistan’s Taliban movement has said that its first official talks with the West on European soil since seizing power in Afghanistan would help “transform the atmosphere of war” after a two-decade insurgency against NATO forces.
“The Islamic Emirate has taken steps for meeting the demands of the Western world and we hope to strengthen our relations through diplomacy with all the countries, including European countries and the West in general,” Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP on Saturday.
The Taliban wants to “transform the atmosphere of war…into a peaceful situation”, he added.
Talks between the Taliban and Western officials will open in Oslo on Sunday on human rights and humanitarian aid as a poverty crisis deepens.
A 15-member Taliban team led by foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, left Kabul on Saturday on a plane organised by the Norwegian government.
The visit from Sunday to Tuesday will see meetings between the hardliners, Norwegian authorities and officials from a number of allied countries, including Britain, the European Union, France, Germany, Italy and the United States.
The Taliban delegation is also expected to meet Afghans from civil society, including women leaders and journalists, at a time when the freedoms of those living in Afghanistan are being increasingly curtailed.