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President Biden’s administration is reportedly continuing negotiations to release billions in frozen assets to Afghanistan, despite the Taliban’s refusal to cooperate.
The US and other countries froze billions of dollars in foreign assets belonging to Afghanistan’s now-defunct government after the Taliban took over the country in 2021. 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 nearly collapsed under the Taliban rule and Western sanctions. Humanitarian organizations have warned that the Afghan people could go hungry in the approaching winter.
The US is trying to avoid sending money directly to the Taliban by creating a Swiss trust fund that would keep control of the funds and distribute them for humanitarian needs. Nonprofits warned earlier this year that much of US aid to Afghanistan went directly to the Taliban.
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The renewed push to give funding to Afghanistan comes weeks after a US drone strike killed top al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri in Kabul, the Afghan capital.
The Taliban have denied knowing that al-Zawahri had shelter in the city. The al-Qaeda leader was inside a house owned by an aide to Sirajuddin Haqqani, the top deputy to the supreme leader of the Taliban, Mullah Haibatallah Akhundzada. He had reportedly been in the house for months at the time of the strike.
The US drone strike hit al-Zawahri when he stepped onto the balcony of the house on August 1.
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Taliban leaders initially condemned the strike as a violation of the Doha Agreement between the Islamic terrorist organization and the US. That agreement, however, stipulates that the Taliban would not allow al-Qaeda or other terrorist groups shelter in Afghanistan.
Caitlin McFall contributed to this report.