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Afghans In 'Informal' Talks With Taliban In Norway

WASHINGTON -- A group of Afghan politicians and civil society members, including several women, have been holding talks with representatives of the Taliban in Norway.

In an e-mail to media organizations on June 5, Zabihullah Mujahid said the discussions were informal and cannot be categorized as "peace talks."

The office of President Ashraf Ghani issued a statement saying, "We appreciate these are nongovernment talks, they are not representing the government of Afghanistan."

A Norwegian Foreign Ministry spokesman told RFE/RL in an e-mail that the participants are attending in their individual capacities while expressing their personal views.

The ministry added that it is Norwegian policy to facilitate contacts such as these in which local stakeholders find them useful.

Female lawmakers Shukria Barekzai and Fawzia Kofi and two female members of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council -- Hawa Alem Nuristani and Sedigheh Balkhi -- are reportedly among the participants.

Under the 1996-2001 rule of the Taliban in Afghanistan, women were deprived of their basic rights.

With reporting by Pajhwok and AP
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