ANKARA: Turkey regrets the Taliban's announcement that high schools in Afghanistan would remain closed for girls, the foreign ministry said late on Wednesday, calling on the hardline group to allow education for all.
The Taliban on Wednesday backtracked on their announcement that high schools would open for girls, saying they would remain closed until a plan was drawn up in accordance with Islamic law for them to reopen.
The u-turn took many by surprise, leaving students in tears and drawing condemnation from humanitarian agencies, rights groups and diplomats at a time when the Taliban administration is seeking international recognition.
In a statement, Turkey's foreign ministry said education for all students, including girls, was the expectation of the Afghan people and that it regretted the Taliban's decision.
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"We call on the Interim Government of Afghanistan to allow girls of all ages to partake in education in an inclusive manner as soon as possible first and foremost for the benefit of the Afghan people, and emphasize that we will continue to stand by the Afghan people in these difficult days," it said.
Since the takeover of Afghanistan in August by the hardline Taliban, Turkey has been working with Qatar to maintain operations at Kabul's Hamid Karzai international airport, while holding talks to operate that airport and others if its security conditions are met.
Turkey has not recognised the Taliban leadership, but it has called for more global engagement with them. Ankara also invited Taliban officials to a diplomacy forum it hosted this month, and has said the Afghan leadership must be heard.
The Taliban is seeking to run Afghanistan according to its interpretation of Islamic law, and it wants to gain access billions of dollars in aid to help meet the challenge of worsening and widespread poverty.