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Taliban release two detained Americans in ‘goodwill gesture’

The statement was released on the same day that the Taliban banned women from attending universities in Afghanistan.

The Taliban have released two Americans who had been held in Afghanistan, the State Department said Tuesday, the same day the group faced conviction for banning women from universities.

“We understand that this has been a goodwill gesture on the part of the Taliban. This was not part of any prisoner or detainee exchange. There was no money that exchanged hands,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.

The two freed Americans had arrived in Qatar on Tuesday, The Washington Post reported, citing diplomats familiar with the matter.

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The identities of the two citizens were not released. Price said confidentiality rules prohibited him from offering any further details about the two Americans.

In a daily news briefing, Price said Washington was continuing to raise with the Taliban the need to release US citizens still being held in Afghanistan, but he declined to provide who they might be and how many people might be held there.

“We are in a position to welcome the release of two American citizens detained in Afghanistan. We are providing these to American citizens with all the proper assistance. They will soon be reunited with their loved ones,” Price said.

He pointed out “the irony of granting us a gesture of goodwill on a day when they undertake such a gesture [banning girls from universities] for the Afghan people, it is not lost on us,” he said. “But it is a question for the Taliban themselves regarding the timing of this.”

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On Tuesday, Afghanistan’s Taliban-run Ministry of Higher Education said female students would not be allowed access to the country’s universities until further notice.

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The announcement came as the United Nations Security Council met in New York on Afghanistan. US and British UN envoys condemned the move during the council meeting.

“The Taliban cannot expect to be a legitimate member of the international community until they respect the rights of all Afghans, especially the human rights and fundamental freedoms of women and girls,” the US deputy ambassador to the UN said. , RobertWood.

“We have an interest in seeing Americans released from detention. That is a uniquely American interest. But beyond that, the categories that I talked about before: human rights, safe conduct, representative government, counterterrorism… We will continue to defend these interests,” Price said.

The Taliban have restricted women from most labor camps, ordering them to wear head-to-toe clothing in public and barring them from parks and gyms.

The United States has repeatedly condemned the Taliban’s record since the group returned to power last year when President Joe Biden withdrew US troops, causing the two-decade-old Western-backed government to collapse.

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