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U.S. Envoys Press For Freedoms For Women, Girls In Meeting With Afghanistan's Top Diplomat

Taliban envoy Amir Khan Muttaqi (left) meets with U.S. envoy Thomas West in March in Antalya, Turkey.

Two U.S. envoys on Afghanistan have pressed for girls' education and more freedoms for Afghan women during a meeting with the Taliban's chief diplomat.

"Girls must be back in school, women free to move & work w/o restrictions for progress to normalized relations," U.S. Special Representative on Afghanistan Thomas West said on Twitter after a meeting with Amir Khan Muttaqi, the Taliban-led government's foreign minister.

West added that he and U.S. special envoy Rina Amir "conveyed unified international opposition to ongoing and expanding restrictions on women and girls' rights and roles in society."

Since surging back to power last year, the Taliban has imposed a slew of restrictions on women and girls, including an order earlier this month calling for women to only show their eyes and recommending they wear the head-to-toe burqa.

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The foreign ministers of the Group of Seven last week expressed their "strongest opposition" to the decree, saying the hard-line group was "further isolating" itself internationally.

Many women remain barred from returning to work and girls are largely cut off from secondary schooling. The government in March further curtailed women's rights by saying they should not be offered transport on trips of more 72 kilometers unless they are accompanied by a close male relative.

Meanwhile, the economic and security situation in Afghanistan continues to deteriorate.

West said he and Muttaqi discussed economic stabilization in Afghanistan and concerns about terrorist attacks on civilians.

"Dialogue will continue in support of Afghan people and our national interests," West said.

The Taliban took control of the country in August 2021 as international forces withdrew from Afghanistan following two decades of fighting.

Most of the world's countries do not recognize the Taliban-led government amid concerns that the militants are not living up to their promises of respecting human rights.

The United States and other have frozen Afghan assets held abroad.

U.S. President Joe Biden in February signed an executive order that will free up half of the $7 billion of the Afghan reserves it holds to set up a humanitarian-aid trust fund for distribution through groups providing relief to Afghans.

The remaining $3.5 billion will stay in the United States and be used to fund ongoing litigation by U.S. victims of terrorism, including for claims against the Taliban by the families of victims of the September 11 attacks.

With reporting by AFP
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