US and Taliban officials held talks in Doha on Thursday to discuss the billions in Afghanistan’s Central Bank’s reserve that the US has frozen since the Taliban took over the country in August 2021 and agreed to hold further meetings.
The meeting was the first time since March that US and Taliban officials met face-to-face since March and comes as Afghanistan is recovering from an earthquake that killed at least 1,000 people.
President Biden’s special envoy for Afghanistan, Thomas West, led the US delegation and Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi led the Afghan side. It’s not clear if much progress was made about getting the frozen funds unlocked, but a spokesman for Muttaqi, Abdul Qahar Balkhi, said the two sides “expressed satisfaction” with the meeting.
Balkhi said that West was accompanied by officials from the White House, the Treasury Department, and USAID. He said the Taliban delegation was joined by officials from Afghanistan’s Central Bank and the Taliban’s Finance Ministry.
The US recently announced $55 million in new humanitarian aid for Afghanistan, which Balkhi said Muttaqi “expressed gratitude” for, and he reiterated the call for US sanctions to be lifted and for the Central Bank reserves to be released.
The UN has said that the sanctions imposed on the Taliban are hampering the country’s efforts to recover from the earthquake. The measures are also exacerbating what was already a dire humanitarian crisis. In March, a UN official said that malnutrition and food insecurity threaten an “entire generation” in Afghanistan.
Back in February, President announced a plan to make half of the $7 billion in Afghan reserves held by the US Federal Reserve available for the families of 9/11 victims despite the fact that the Afghan people had nothing to do with the attacks. The other half, he said, would go toward humanitarian aid for Afghanistan through a special trust.