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President Joe Biden’s administration is reportedly pushing forward with talks to release billions in frozen assets to Afghanistan despite the Taliban’s refusal to cooperate.
The U.S. and other nations froze billions of dollars worth of foreign-held assets belonging to the now-defunct Afghanistan government after the Taliban took over the country in 2021. The Biden administration continues to work with Taliban officials despite the terrorist organization’s housing of a top Al-Qaeda leader in Kabul, Reuters reported Monday.
The Biden administration and the United Nations are working to release the funds in an effort to stabilize the Afghan economy, which has all but collapsed under Taliban rule and Western sanctions. Humanitarian organizations have warned that the Afghan people may face hunger in the impending winter.
The U.S. seeks to avoid sending funds directly to the Taliban by setting up a Swiss trust fund that would hold control the funds and distribute them for humanitarian needs. Nonprofits warned earlier this year that much of U.S. aid to Afghanistan was going directly to the Taliban.
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The renewed push to give the funding to Afghanistan comes weeks after a U.S. drone strike killed top al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri in Kabul, the Afghan capital.
The Taliban has denied knowledge that al-Zawahri was sheltering in the city. The al-Qaeda chief was inside a home owned by an aide to Sirajuddin Haqqani, top deputy of the Taliban’s supreme leader Mullah Haibatallah Akhundzada. He had reportedly been in the house for months at the time of the strike.
The U.S. drone strike hit al-Zawahri as he stepped onto the house’s balcony on Aug. 1.
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Taliban leaders initially condemned the strike as an infringement of the Doha Agreement between the Islamic terrorist organization and the U.S. That agreement stipulates that the Taliban would not allow al-Qaeda or other terror groups to shelter in Afghanistan, however.
Caitlin McFall contributed to this report.