Kabul [Afghanistan]: The Taliban official Amir Khan Muttaqi, along with his delegation, left for Qatar on Wednesday to discuss with the US officials the release of withheld Afghan assets worth USD 9 billion amid country’s struggles with famine and poverty.
The delegation team will meet the US Special Representative for Afghanistan, and officials from the Treasury Department, Thomas West, Khaama Press reported citing Ahmad Wali Haqmal, the spokesperson for the Taliban forces. This is the first meeting since West pushed Muttaqi to lift restrictions on girl students’ access to education on May 21. Under the Taliban administration, girls are not allowed to continue their education past the sixth grade.
At the same time, US sources claimed that Joe Biden’s administration was working with the Taliban on a mechanism that would provide Afghanistan access to the monetary reserves of the central bank, reported Khaama Press citing The Washington Post.
After the Taliban seized the nation by force last year, the US froze Afghan reserves. The militants-turned-politicians are currently working to restore the nation’s economy which has been ravaged by sanctions imposed and isolation.
This comes as a strong earthquake that struck the country last week also caused over 1,500 injuries and approximately 1,000 fatalities.
Earlier, the US said that they would provide nearly USD 55 million in immediate humanitarian assistance to the people impacted by the devastating earthquake in Afghanistan’s southeastern part.
The funds will be used to deliver the essential food items, clothing, cooking utensils, blankets, jerry cans, and sanitation supplies to prevent waterborne diseases in the disaster-hit areas, Voice of America reported.
According to the publication, the US has been the largest humanitarian donor to Afghanistan and over USD 774 million in humanitarian assistance over the past year
“The United States has an enduring commitment to the people of Afghanistan, and we welcome and encourage support from our international partners in this time of great need,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement on Tuesday.
The U.S. announcement came only a day after the United Nations appealed for USD 110.3 million in urgent humanitarian response to some 360,000 Afghans impacted by the earthquake, reported Voice of America.
The UN and the Afghan government have been largely involved in the operations to save civilians. However, the United Nations said it does not have heavy machines and equipment and relies on the Afghan authorities to provide it.
Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator stated that the UN has released USD 10 million from UNCERF for the affected people of Afghanistan to help with the immediate response.