Doha Talks See Taliban Urging US to Release Frozen Funds

As aid-dependent Afghanistan grapples with an economic crisis, the Taliban renewed its calls for the United States to release billions of dollars in frozen funds.

Following the withdrawal from Afghanistan, Washington seized nearly $9.5 billion of the Afghan central bank’s assets and funds while the IMF and the World Bank, which also suspended activities in Afghanistan, have put on hold the aid as well as $340 million in new reserves the IMF issued in August.

During the two days of talks in Doha led by the US special representative for Afghanistan, Tom West, and the Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, the Afghans also called for the blacklisting and sanctions to end.

It resulted in an effective collapse of the Afghan economy and warnings from the UN that more than half the population, or around 22 million people, will face an acute food shortage during the winter.

Afghan foreign ministry spokesman Abdul Qahar Balkhi tweeted after the meetings that they assured the US side of security and demanded unconditional release of Afghanistan’s frozen money as well as separating the human issues from the political ones.

The State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement that the US delegation’s demand list was quite long, noting that the Taliban were called to deliver its promises.

They were reminded of its obligations not to allow anyone to pose a threat to any country from the soil of Afghanistan, to allow safe passage for US citizens, to protect the rights of all of Afghanistan’s citizens, including its girls, women, and minorities, and the safe release of hostage Mark Frerichs, who was kidnapped in Afghanistan in February last year.

The statement also adds that the US remains committed to ensuring that its sanctions do not limit the humanitarian support for the Afghan civilians from the US government and international community.

In line with that, the Treasury Department has issued general licenses to support the continued flow of humanitarian assistance and other activities that support the basic human needs of Afghans.

The second round of talks between the US and the hard-line Islamists in Qatar since the end of the 20-year US occupation of Afghanistan has seen the delegations discussing providing necessary banking and cash facilities as well as the political, economic, human, health, education, and security issues in the country.

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