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Biden Administration to Consider Releasing Frozen Taliban Funds

A man rides a bike in front of the Bank of Afghanistan in Kabul, Afghanistan October 8, 2021. REUTERS/Jorge Silva/File Photo
A man rides a bike in front of the Bank of Afghanistan in Kabul, Afghanistan October 8, 2021. REUTERS/Jorge Silva/File Photo

U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration will press ahead with talks on releasing billions of dollars in Afghanistan’s foreign-held assets despite the late al Qaeda leader’s presence in Kabul and foot-dragging by the Taliban and Afghan central bank, according to three sources with knowledge of the situation.

The decision to pursue the initiative to help stabilize Afghanistan’s collapsed economy underscores growing concern in Washington over a humanitarian crisis as the United Nations warns that nearly half the country’s 40 million people face “acute hunger” as winter approaches.

At the core of the U.S.-led effort, as Reuters reported last month, is a plan to transfer billions in foreign-held Afghan central bank assets into a proposed Swiss-based trust fund. Disbursements would be made with the help of an international board and bypass the Taliban, many of whose leaders are under U.S. and U.N. sanctions.

The Islamist extremists presented a counterproposal in talks in Doha in late June.

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