US calls off talks with Taliban after girls’ schools close – Manila Bulletin

WASHINGTON, United States — The United States said on Friday it had called off scheduled talks in Doha with the Taliban after extremist Islamist leaders in Afghanistan closed secondary schools for girls.

“We have canceled some of our commitments, including scheduled meetings in Doha around the Doha Forum, and have made it clear that we view this decision as a potential turning point in our engagement,” the deputy spokeswoman for the Department of Defense said. State, Jalina Porter.

The Taliban, who took power in August and yearn for international recognition, closed secondary schools for girls this week just hours after they reopened.

“This decision by the Taliban, if not quickly reversed, will profoundly harm the Afghan people, the country’s economic growth prospects and the Taliban’s ambition to improve its relationship with the international community,” Porter told reporters. journalists.

“In the interests of the future of Afghanistan and the Taliban’s relationship with the international community, we urge the Taliban to honor their commitments and to their people,” she said.

“We also support Afghan girls and their families, who see education as a way to realize the full potential of Afghan society and economy,” she added.

The Taliban’s decision to close schools for girls came after a Tuesday night meeting of senior officials in the southern city of Kandahar, the movement’s de facto power center and conservative spiritual heartland.

It followed months of work by the international community to resolve the issue of teacher stipend support, and came just as Afghan girls were eagerly returning to school for the first time in seven months.

– ‘Major setback’ –

When the Taliban returned to power, they promised softer rule than their first rule from 1996 to 2001, which became notorious for its human rights abuses.

They claimed to respect women’s rights, in line with their interpretation of Islamic Sharia, and said girls would be allowed to study up to university.

But the Taliban have imposed a host of restrictions on women, effectively banning them from many government jobs, controlling what they wear and preventing them from traveling alone outside their cities.

In a joint statement on Thursday, the foreign ministers of Britain, Canada, France, Italy, Norway and the United States, as well as the high representative of the European Union, said the decision of the Taliban would harm the group’s prospects for legitimacy.

Signatories to the statement included Norway, which hosted historic talks between the Taliban and several Western diplomats in January.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, said on Wednesday that “the denial of education violates the human rights of women and girls”, leaving them “more vulnerable to violence, poverty and operation”.

The head of UNESCO, the United Nations education organization, Audrey Azoulay, also criticized the Taliban’s decision, calling it a “major setback”.

“Access to education is a fundamental right. UNESCO reiterates its call: girls must be allowed to return to school without further delay,” she said.



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