A top Taliban delegation on Saturday left for Norway for the first official talks with the West on European soil, since seizing power in Kabul in August last year.
"A senior delegation led by (acting Foreign Minister) Mawlawi Amir Khan Muttaqi left for Norway in a special flight of the said country where talks will be held with representatives of various countries and a number of Afghans about humanitarian aid, political, educational and economic issues," spokesperson Abdul Qahar Balkhi wrote on Twitter.
Norway has invited representatives of the Taliban to Oslo for meetings with the Norwegian authorities and other Afghan figures from a range of fields within civil society.
"We are extremely concerned about the grave situation in Afghanistan, where millions of people are facing a full-blown humanitarian disaster. In order to be able to help the civilian population in Afghanistan, it is essential that both the international community and Afghans from various parts of society engage in dialogue with the Taliban," said Norway's Minister of Foreign Affairs Anniken Huitfeldt.
In Oslo, the Taliban will meet representatives of the Norwegian authorities and officials from a number of allied countries. In a press statement, Norway's Foreign Ministry said meetings will also take place between the Taliban delegation and other Afghans with backgrounds from a range of fields.
Huitfeldt said these meetings do not represent a legitimization or recognition of the Taliban but show the need for talks to the de facto authorities in the country.
Afghanistan is contending with drought, a pandemic, an economic collapse and the effects of years of conflict. Some 24 million people are experiencing acute food insecurity. Reports indicate that one million children could die of starvation.
According to UN estimates, more than half of the population will be facing famine this winter, and 97 per cent of the population could fall below the poverty line this year. (ANI)