(Photo Credit: CNN)
Taliban officials from the Central Bank of Afghanistan will meet with a US Treasury Department official on 29 June in Qatar, following the 6.1 magnitude earthquake that struck Afghanistan last week.
The earthquake hit the southeastern region of the country killing over 1,000 people, injuring 1,500, and collapsed 10,000 homes. According to UN figures, 155 children are among those killed in what was the deadliest earthquake to hit the nation in two decades.
Taliban Foreign Ministry spokesman Hafiz Zia Ahmad confirmed the meeting, saying the Afghan delegation will be led by Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi.
According to FM spokesman Ahmad, officials will also meet in Doha with the US special representative for Afghanistan and the US Treasury Department to discuss Afghanistan’s banking and economic sectors.
Reports disclose that President Biden’s administration officials are working with the Taliban to find ways to allow Afghanistan to access its offshore central bank reserves, which hold an estimated $9 billion, to deal with the nation’s severe poverty crisis.
Afghan accounts were frozen due to international sanctions following the Taliban’s consolidation of power in August last year, prompting a chaotic withdrawal of NATO and US allied forces, as well as 100,000 Afghan civilians who fled the country.
Earlier this month, a number of relatives of the victims of the 11 September 2001 attacks called on US President Joe Biden to release billions of dollars from Afghanistan’s frozen foreign reserves.
Earlier this year, the US announced plans to allocate 50 percent of Afghanistan’s frozen overseas funds to pay the families of US victims of 9/11, aggravating a major humanitarian crisis sweeping through the war-torn country.
However, not all families of 9/11 victims have joined the call, with some filing lawsuits against the Taliban, and others saying that the confiscation of money that Afghanistan desperately needs would be an inappropriate way of obtaining justice.
Almost half of Afghanistan’s population, more than 19 million people, will face acute hunger this year, according to a report compiled by several UN agencies on 10 May.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) recently revealed that 1.1 million Afghan children under the age of five are at risk of malnutrition this year.
The agency explained that this new assessment is equivalent to double the number of children exposed to acute malnutrition in Afghanistan since 2018.
The US war destroyed Afghanistan’s economy and infrastructure, leaving the country dependent on international aid for over 75 percent of its national budget.