Afghan minister wants good relations, needs more time for girls’ education

Afghanistan’s Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi speaks at the Doha Institute in Doha, Qatar on October 11, 2021. REUTERS / Andrew Mills

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DOHA, October 11 (Reuters) – Afghanistan’s foreign minister appealed to the world for good relations on Monday, but avoided giving firm commitments on girls’ education despite international demands to let all Afghan children go back to school.

Nearly two months after the previous Western-backed government collapsed and rebel forces swept into Kabul, the new Taliban administration has been pushing to build ties with other countries to help stave off a catastrophic economic crisis.

“The international community needs to start cooperating with us,” said Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi at an event hosted by the Center for Conflict and Humanitarian Studies at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies. “With this we will be able to stop uncertainty and at the same time we will be able to engage positively in the world.”

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But the Taliban has so far refused to give reason to allow girls to return to high school, one of the main demands of the international community following a decision last month that schools above sixth grade would only reopen for boys.

Muttaqi said the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate government was moving cautiously, but had only been in power for a few weeks and could not be expected to implement reforms that the international community had not been able to implement for 20 years.

“They had a lot of financial resources and they had a strong international backing and support, but at the same time are you asking us to implement all the reforms in two months?” he said.

The new administration has come under constant criticism for its approach to girls’ education, which is considered one of the limited number of unequivocally positive gains from the West’s two decades of commitment to Afghanistan.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the Taliban had broken promises to guarantee the rights of women and girls and that there was no way the economy could be corrected if women were excluded from work. Read more

Muttaqi repeatedly called on the United States to lift a blockade of more than $ 9 billion in Afghan central bank reserves held outside the country, but said the government had its own revenues from taxes, tariffs and agriculture if funds remained frozen.

He said Taliban forces had full control of the country and were able to control the threat from Islamic State militants, who have claimed a number of deadly attacks in recent weeks, including last week’s bombing of a Shiite mosque in the northern city of Kunduz. .

“The Daesh issue has been controlled very well by the Islamic Emirate so far,” he said, using a derogatory term for the radical Sunni group, but added that international pressure on the government helped Islamic State morale.

“Instead of pressure, the world should cooperate with us.”

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Reporting by Alexander Cornwell, Andrew Mills, James Mackenzie; Edited by Hugh Lawson and Giles Elgood

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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