The United States and other Western countries on Thursday condemned the Taliban’s decision to close a girls ’high school in Afghanistan just hours after the school reopened, and urged the hardline Islamic movement to reverse direction.
A joint statement by the foreign ministers of Britain, Canada, France, Italy, Norway and the US, as well as senior representatives of the European Union, said Wednesday’s decision by the Taliban would undermine the group’s legitimacy prospects and “Afghanistan’s ambition to be a respected member of the national community. “
“The Taliban’s actions contradict its public assurances to the Afghan people and the international community,” Western countries said in a statement.
They urged the Taliban, which seized power last August when U.S. troops withdrew from the country, “immediately to reverse this decision, which will have consequences far beyond its danger to Afghan girls.”
“Not reversed, it will affect Afghanistan’s prospects for social cohesion and economic growth.”
Those who signed the statement included Norway, which hosted important talks between the Taliban and several Western diplomats in January.
While the Norwegian government insisted it placed “significant demands” on the Taliban and negotiations in Oslo did not at all legitimize the movement, the head of the Norwegian Refugee Council said at the time that lifting sanctions on the Taliban was a critical step in saving lives in Afghanistan.
The Taliban’s decision to close schools for girls was made after a meeting late Tuesday by senior officials in the southern city of Kandahar, the movement’s de facto power center and conservative spiritual center.
It follows months of work by the international community to address the issue of teacher salary support, and comes just as Afghan girls are eager to return to school for the first time in seven months.
Western countries warn that the move “will have an inevitable impact on the Taliban’s prospects for gaining political support and legitimacy either at home or abroad.
“Every Afghan citizen, male or female, male or female, has the same right to education at all levels, in all territories of the country.”
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)