U.S. and Taliban Discuss Unlocking Some Afghan Reserves

As the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan worsens, a US delegation met in Uzbekistan with top Taliban officials to discuss how to free $3.5 billion from central bank reserves.

According to the Department of State’s Thursday readout, the US delegation stated to the Taliban and other technocrats that it was necessary to speed up efforts to unlock the reserves. It also stressed the need for Afghan people to receive the money. US representatives were led by Thomas West (Special Representative for Afghanistan) and Brian Nelson (Undersecretary of the Treasury, Terrorism and Financial Intelligence).

The meeting marks the latest rounds of talks between the two sides as the Biden is seeking to establish a mechanism to allow Afghanistan’s government to use its central bank reserves, while curtailing the Taliban’s access to the funds. A Taliban delegation headed by Amir Khan Muttaqi, Foreign Minister of Afghanistan met US officials in Qatar last month to discuss the release of approximately $9 billion worth Afghan frozen funds.

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Close to one year since the US pulled out of Afghanistan, the militant group continues to struggle to rebuild the nation’s economy. Afghanistan is now without international assistance, which has contributed more than 40% to its GDP. The UN has issued several appeals for aid and stated that Afghanistan was facing extreme hunger.

Last month, the US Agency for International Development announced that it will provide Afghanistan with almost $55million in aid. This is to assist those who were affected by the devastating earthquake in South Asia which killed nearly 1,000 people.

President Joe Biden this year signed an executive order to help enable certain U.S.-based assets belonging to Afghanistan’s central bank, Da Afghanistan Bank, to be used to aid its people. DAB property that is held in America by financial institutions has been blocked and they must transfer it to a Federal Reserve Bank of New York account.

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