Sources claim that Washington has the ability to free billions of frozen funds in order to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe
According to Reuters, the US government will continue negotiations for Afghan money in Afghanistan. These funds were frozen last August by Washington and other countries following the Taliban overthrow.
The talks are meant to help stabilize the crumbling Afghan economy, as the United Nations warns that the nation may face “acute hunger” this winter.
They will go ahead despite Washington’s concerns that Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri – who helped plan the 9/11 attacks – was staying in Kabul before he was killed in a US drone strike earlier this month.
According to Reuters reports, Washington wants to send billions in assets to a Swiss bank from the Afghan central banking. The international board would oversee the disbursement of the funds, avoiding the Taliban officials who have been subject to US and UN sanctions.
According to Reuters’ sources, US officials have said they intend to pursue talks with the militant organization at an August briefing, although they were frustrated with the speed of the talks. A US official blamed slow progress on inability of Taliban central bank and Afghan central bank officials to move fast.
One of the sticking points is the Taliban’s reported opposition to several international demands, including the removal of two sanctioned militants from posts at the central bank — and a reluctance to formally agree to install independent anti-money laundering monitors. According to Reuters however, Taliban officials consented in principle to this provision.
After the collapse of the Western-backed Afghan government last year, more than $9 billion was left in foreign banks. These funds were frozen upon the Taliban’s takeover.
An earlier report suggested that Biden’s administration was not planning to release Afghan assets due to concerns about terrorist financing.
“It is not surprising that the Taliban sheltering Al Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri only reinforces our deep concern about funds being diverted to terrorist groups.” Thomas West, the US State Department’s special representative for Afghanistan, told the Wall Street Journal last week.
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