Reuters reported on Monday that the Biden administration plans to continue talks with the Taliban on the Afghan central bank reserves that have been seized by the US as millions in Afghanistan are facing starvation.
The Reuters report cited three sources familiar with the matter and came after earlier reports that said the Biden administration had decided not to release the $7 billion in Afghan funds that are being held by the US Federal Reserve.
The US and the Taliban held talks on the central bank reserves back in June, but it wasn’t clear if there would be further negotiations after the US claimed it killed al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in a drone strike in Kabul.
The US said Zawahiri’s presence in Kabul meant the Taliban violated the Doha agreement, which paved the way for the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. But the Taliban denied knowing that Zawahiri was in Kabul, and haven’t confirmed that he was killed in the drone strike.
The Reuters report said that the US will continue the talks with the Taliban despite Zawahiri’s alleged presence in Kabul. US sources accused the Taliban of dragging out the process by not complying with international demands, such as replacing Taliban militants that are currently the head of Afghanistan’s central bank, known as the DAB.
Earlier this year, President Biden signed an executive order that would make $3.5 billion of the Afghan reserves available for the families of 9/11 victims even though the people of Afghanistan had nothing to do with the September 11th attacks.
Last week, a group of 9/11 families sent a letter to President Biden, urging him to return the funds to the Afghan people. The letter said that the families didn’t want the money if it would “take money away from starving Afghans.”
The UN has warned that a staggering 95% of Afghans are not getting enough to eat and that nearly one-half of the population is facing acute hunger. A UN official said in March that the situation threatens an “entire generation of Afghans.“