By KATHY GANNON, Associated Press

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A top Taliban leader says Afghanistan's new rulers are committed in principle to education and jobs for girls and women and have learned lessons from their previous time in power.

Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi told The Associated Press in a rare interview on Sunday that the Taliban are appealing to the world's "mercy and compassion" to help millions of Afghans in desperate need.

Muttaqi says that having a weak Afghan government "is not in the interest of anyone."

The minister acknowledged the world's dismay at limitations on girls' education and on women in the work force. He says the Taliban are working to improve the situation.

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