US says talks held with Kabul officials over bank reserves

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A delegation of the United States discussed with Islamic Emirate officials efforts to enable the release of billions of dollars from Afghan central bank reserves, the State Department said in a statement.

Wednesday’s meeting included Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson and Special envoy for Afghanistan Thomas West, according to a statement from the State Department.

“On July 27, Special Representative for Afghanistan Thomas West and Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson led a senior interagency delegation from the Department of State and the Department of the Treasury to continue discussions with senior Taliban representatives and technocratic professionals in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. The meetings took place after the conclusion of the Uzbekistan-hosted Tashkent Conference on Afghanistan on July 26,” the statement reads.

The statement further added that the United States expressed the need to address the urgent humanitarian situation in Afghanistan.

According to the statement of the US State Department, the two sides discussed ongoing efforts to enable the $3.5 billion in licensed Afghan central bank reserves to be used for the benefit of the Afghan people. The United States underscored the need to accelerate the work on these efforts.

Meanwhile, a spokesman of the Ministry of Economy said that freezing of Afghanistan’s funds is against all international law.

“Freezing these funds is against all international regulations, and if this money is freed, it will have a positive influence on the value of the Afghan currency, the economy, and in many other areas,” Ministry of Finance spokesperson Ahmad Wali Haqmal told TOLOnews.

Meanwhile, the US and Islamic Emirate officials have exchanged proposals for the release of billions of dollars from Afghan central bank reserves held abroad into a trust fund, Reuters said, citing three sources familiar with the talks.

According to two sources the significant differences between the sides remain, including the Islamic Emirate’s refusal to replace the bank’s top political appointees, one of whom is under US sanctions as are several of the movement’s leaders.

While the Islamic Emirate does not reject the concept of a trust fund, they oppose a US proposal for third-party control of the fund that would hold and disburse returned reserves, said an Islamic Emirate government source who spoke on condition of anonymity to Reuters.

The US has been in talks with Switzerland and other parties on the creation of a mechanism that would include the trust fund, disbursements from which would be decided with the help of an international board, according to a US source speaking to Reuters who also declined to be named.—Tolonews

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