US visa restrictions to negatively impact ties: Taliban

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The United States’ new visa rules against some Taliban members could have a “negative” impact on ties with Afghanistan’s government, which held talks with Washington this week, the foreign ministry said Wednesday.

Since returning to power in August 2021 after the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, the Taliban have issued a slew of restrictions controlling women’s lives, based on their strict interpretation of Islamic sharia law.

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They have also blocked girls from returning to secondary schools and barred women from many government jobs.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday unveiled visa restrictions for some current and former members of the Taliban involved in curtailing women’s rights in Afghanistan.

The policy is an “obstacle” to the development of ties between the two countries, the Afghan foreign ministry said in a statement Wednesday.

“Such decisions can have a negative impact on bilateral relations,” it said, adding that Washington’s announcement came soon after high-ranking officials of both countries held talks in Doha this week.

During the talks, both sides discussed “almost all important issues”, the ministry said, without elaborating.

The talks were the first since Washington announced the killing of al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri in a US drone strike in the Afghan capital Kabul in July.

Among other rollbacks of women’s rights, the Taliban have ordered them to cover fully in public, preferably with an all-encompassing burqa.

Sporadic protests held by women protesters have been forcefully dispersed by Taliban forces in Kabul and some other cities.

The United States and much of the international community have made the reopening of secondary schools for girls a key condition for formally recognizing the Taliban government.

Since the hardline Islamists seized power, no country has yet recognized them as Afghanistan’s government.

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