KABUL: Women will be included for the first time ever in the Taliban delegation to peace talks in Qatar this month, the movement’s main spokesman said on Monday, ahead of the latest round of meetings aimed at ending the war in Afghanistan .
For a group notorious for its strictly conservative attitude to women’s rights, the move represents a step towards addressing demands that women be included in the talks, intended to lay the foundations for a future peace settlement.
The April 19-21 meeting in Doha will be the latest in a series of talks between Taliban and U.S. officials and is also expected to include a 150-strong delegation of Afghan politicians and civil society figures.
“There will be women among Taliban delegation members in the Doha, Qatar meeting,” Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban’s main spokesman, said by telephone.
He did not name the women, but added, “These women have no family relationship with the senior members of the Taliban, they are normal Afghans, from inside and outside the country, who have been supporters and part of the struggle of the Islamic Emirate”.
In a tweet, he specified that the women would only join discussions with Afghan civil society and political representatives, not in the main negotiations with American officials, led by U.S. special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad.
The Taliban have maintained their rejection of formal talks with the Afghan government, which they dismiss as a “puppet” regime controlled by the United States.