Participants of Oslo talks call for understanding, cooperation on Afghanistan

by IANS |

Copenhagen, Jan 26 (IANS) Representatives from the interim government of Afghanistan and a group of Afghans from various sectors of society called on all Afghans to work together for better outcomes in the war-torn country, according to a joint statement released after a meeting in Oslo of Norway.

"The participants of the meeting held on Tuesday recognised that understanding and joint cooperation are the only solutions to all the problems of Afghanistan," said the statement on the official website of the Norwegian government.

All the participants, according to the statement, with one voice, declared such meetings to be in the interest of the country, Xinhua news agency reported.

"The participants affirmed that Afghanistan is the common home of all Afghans, and emphasised that all Afghans need to work together for better political, economic and security outcomes in the country," it added.

The meeting, taking place on January 23, was hosted by Norway. Norway has invited representatives of the Taliban to Oslo on January 23-25 for meetings with the Norwegian authorities and representatives of the international community, as well as with other Afghans from a range of fields within civil society.

The Norwegian Foreign Ministry said that one of the key principles underpinning Norway's peace and reconciliation efforts is the willingness to talk to all parties. Norway has been in dialogue with the Taliban for many years.

"These meetings do not represent a legitimisation or recognition of the Taliban. But we must talk to the de-facto authorities in the country. We cannot allow the political situation to lead to an even worse humanitarian disaster," the Ministry added in a statement before the meetings.

Meanwhile, the Taliban delegation hailed the Oslo meeting as "a major breakthrough."

"We have had very fruitful conversations in Norway ... We have not negotiated, but have had interesting exchanges of views on the situation in Afghanistan," Norwegian national broadcaster NRK quoted an anonymous representative of the delegation as saying on Monday.

"The fact that Norway arranged for us to come here and share the stage with the international community is a major breakthrough," he added.

Jan Egeland of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) described international sanctions imposed on Afghanistan since the Taliban took power as "devastating."

"The sanctions are holding us back. We cannot save lives without lifting the sanctions. They are harming the same people that NATO spent billions of dollars on defending until August," Egeland told Norwegian news agency NTB on Tuesday.

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