US cancels Taliban talks after girls barred from school: report
U.S. officials canceled economic talks with the Taliban government in Afghanistan after it reversed a decision to allow girls in the country to attend high school.
A State Department official told Reuters on Friday that the U.S. had canceled planned talks set for the weekend in Doha, the capital of Qatar, concerning the Afghan central bank, the printing of Afghani currency bank notes and hundreds of millions of dollars in a World Bank trust fund for the country’s education sector.
The Taliban’s decision to continue barring girls from education “was a deeply disappointing and inexplicable reversal of commitments to the Afghan people, first and foremost, and also to the international community,” the official said.
On Wednesday, the Taliban backtracked from a previous decision to open high schools to girls, saying they would remain barred until a plan was drawn up that follows Islamic law, according to Reuters.
The move drew backlash since the Taliban had promised to ease up on some restrictions after it took over the country following a chaotic U.S. military withdrawal last summer.
U.S. officials have said they will work with the Taliban government to provide aid, given Afghanistan is on the brink of a serious economic collapse. But they have signaled that Afghan leaders must correct human rights violations that were a concern when the Taliban previously ruled the country in the late ’90s and early 2000s.
American leaders have already provided some aid. In January, the White House announced $308 million in humanitarian assistance. President Biden also announced in February he would split $7 billion in frozen Afghan funds and pay $3.5 billion to aid the Afghan people through a trust fund.
But the decision to hold in place a ban on educating older girls appears to have damaged U.S.-Taliban relations.
U.S. Special Envoy to Afghanistan Tom West tweeted on Wednesday that he joined “millions of Afghan families today in expressing shock and deep disappointment with the Taliban’s decision to not allow women and girls to return to school above grade 6.”
“Education is a fundamental right of all human beings and is essential to Afghanistan’s economic growth and stability,” West wrote. “This is a betrayal of public commitments to the Afghan people and the international community.”