An anonymous Taliban official confirmed to the US's NBC news that talks were now underway in the capital, Oslo
“Our representatives, led by Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanakzai, Qari Din Mohammad Hanif, Sher Mohammad and others, have already landed in Norway,” he told the broadcaster. “They will have an important meeting with Afghan government officials … during two days of peace talks in Norway.”
Over the last few months, the Afghan government has repeatedly attempted to meet with the Taliban for peace talks, but the militants have so far declined.
In May this year they said in a statement that they would only hold talks if the US and other western countries withdrew all troops from the country.
Norway’s minister of foreign affairs, Børge Brende, has confirmed that talks will take place on Tuesday and Wednesday outside of Oslo
“I have noted that Afghan authorities confirm that thy have representatives in Norway, and that the Taliban confirm they have representatives in Norway,” he said at a press conference according to Norway’s VG newspaper. “This is a setting for dialogue and there are peace mediators from around the world participating.”
The Taliban have recently come under increasing pressure as IS troops have engaged then in battle in eastern Afghanistan, displacing thousands of people.
During the first week of June, a delegation of prominent female lawmakers held informal talks with Taliban representatives in Oslo.
The Taliban’s recent statements can be seen as a softening of their stance on women’s education and participation in the work force in order to end fourteen years of conflict in the country.
Some analysts doubted the sincerity of the Taliban regarding women’s’ rights.
“They come out with great rhetoric which some people are willing to accept because they want to see a 'changed' Taliban in terms of a victory after so many years of war,” Heather Barr, senior researcher with Human Rights Watch told New York Times.