US and Taliban enter talks to release $3.5 billion in central bank currency reserves amid humanitarian crisis

·1 min read
Taliban foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi speaking
Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi.Cagla Gurdogan/Reuters
  • US and Taliban officials met in Uzbekistan for talks to unfreeze roughly $3.5 billion in central bank reserves.

  • The summit comes as the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan worsens since the militant group took power almost a year ago.

  • Afghanistan's sanctioned economy has lost significant international capital since the US withdrew from the country.

US and Taliban officials met in Uzbekistan for talks to unlock roughly $3.5 billion in central bank foreign exchange reserves amid a worsening humanitarian situation in Afghanistan.

A US delegation told the Taliban senior officials that the move to unlock reserve funds needed to speed up, and they said the funds had to be used to benefit Afghan people, according to a Thursday readout from the State Department.

Additionally, the meeting aimed to resolve how to allow Afghanistan's government to access its central bank reserves while also stemming the Taliban's access.

Afghanistan's central bank holds about $9 billion in foreign exchange reserves outside the country, with about $7 billion sitting in the US.

Last month, the Taliban's foreign minister, Amir Khan Muttaqi, met US officials in Qatar to discuss releasing the frozen Afghan funds.

Since the US pulled out of Afghanistan last summer and the Taliban took power, the country has lost international aid which accounted for more than 40% of its GDP. Now, there's been ongoing crises and the UN said millions in Afghanistan face severe hunger.

Earlier this year, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to allow some of the Afghan central bank's US-based assets to be deployed as aid.

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