Afghanistan: How the Taliban stand to benefit from Norway talks

Rights groups warned that the international community should remain cautious in its dealings with the Taliban

Norwegian authorities have said the ongoing international talks with the Taliban are not tantamount to legitimizing the Islamist group. But human rights activists, particularly those from Afghanistan, do not agree with these claims. They have slammed Norway's decision to host the militant group, which seized power in Afghanistan last August.

The Taliban, however, are hailing the Oslo talks as an "achievement." At the end of the first day of talks on Monday, a Taliban official told the AP news agency that the meetings were a "step to legitimize the Afghan government."

Amir Khan, the Taliban's foreign minister, said after meeting with envoys from the US, France, UK, Germany, the EU and Norway on Tuesday that "Norway providing us this opportunity is an achievement in itself because we shared the stage with the world."

The West faces a dilemma: It accuses the Taliban of continued human rights abuses in Afghanistan but at the same time understands that engaging with the Islamic fundamentalist group is now more important than ever.

The main reason behind this engagement is the unprecedented humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. Earlier this month, the United Nations made the "biggest-ever appeal" for humanitarian aid for a single country, saying it needed $4.4 billion (€3.9 billion) for Afghanistan to prevent the "world's most rapidly growing humanitarian crisis" from deteriorating further.

For that reason, Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt stressed that the international community "must talk to the de facto authorities in the country" as it "cannot allow the political situation to lead to an even worse humanitarian disaster."