Secret Afghan talks held in Oslo: report

Diplomats from United Nations Security Council countries and states surrounding Afghanistan held talks in an Oslo hotel on Friday, newspaper Bergens Tidende has reported, citing sources.

The talks aimed at “regional cooperation” are a continuation of secret talks by the same participants in Dubai and Istanbul during the past year, the newspaper said.

“We don’t have regional interests. That makes us better equipped to take on the role of (regional peace architect),” Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre was quoted as saying.

Støre said Afghanistan’s neighbours have been staking out spheres of influence in the war-battered country. Uzbekistan and Tajikistan are said to have Uzbek and Tajik leaders increasingly under sway, while Pakistan and Afghanistan’s majority Pashtu form a natural link divided only by a political border created while the region was under British dominion.

“I have no illusions that neighbouring states will stop using the country to forward their own interests,” Støre said, adding that apart from the Central Asian republics, China and Iran find Afghanistan in their sphere.

The foreign minister’s experts have outlined that peace in Afghanistan isn’t possible without the help of the country’s neighbours.

Norwegian diplomacy is believed to have intensified toward engaging the Taliban politically and finding exit routes for Nato forces. Norwegian Special Forces have patrolled the area near the Afghan capital Kabul and regular army units provided a field hospital and development work before joining other Nato land forces in combat roles.

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