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US, Taliban discuss earthquake aid, foreign reserves in Doha


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Talks between the United States and the Taliban continued in Doha earlier this week to discuss earthquake relief, the State Department said Friday, months after the two sides last met in the Qatari capital in March.

The Taliban are looking for a way to unlock some of the country’s foreign reserves — currently frozen by the United States — after a devastating earthquake last month, with the United States seeking guarantees that the money would go to help the population.

During meetings Wednesday and Thursday, the United States reiterated a previous pledge of $55 million in new earthquake relief aid, the State Department said in a statement Friday.

And “the two sides discussed in detail U.S. actions to preserve $3.5 billion in Afghan central bank reserves for the benefit of the Afghan people,” the statement said, money the White House said last week the U.S. is “urgently” transferring to the Afghan people. were work.

Last week’s earthquake measuring 5.9 on the Richter scale in eastern Afghanistan, which killed more than 1,000 people and left tens of thousands homeless, makes the financing debate even more urgent.

“The United States expressed its condolences for the loss of life and suffering in Afghanistan caused by recent earthquakes,” the State Department said of the meeting, which was led by Special Representative for Afghanistan Thomas West.

The United States has “expressed concern about the Taliban’s increased interference in the provision of humanitarian aid” and “concerns over transparency in the provision of services,” the aid statement said.

According to the State Department, U.S. representatives have also urged Taliban authorities on women’s rights — a sticking point that led Washington to cancel talks in Doha in March, when the group closed high schools for girls in Afghanistan.

“The United States supports the demands of the Afghan people that girls be allowed to return to school and that women be allowed to work, contribute to the economic growth of the country and be able to move and express themselves freely,” the statement said.

The hardline Islamist Taliban took over in August 2021 after the United States abandoned a 20-year military effort.

Washington froze $7 billion in reserves at the time, and the international community withdrew billions in direct aid that Afghanistan and its population of about 40 million people had relied on.

The currency has collapsed and the country has entered a serious economic crisis, although some aid has recovered.

The Taliban are still considered a terrorist group by the United States, which has insisted that any improvement in relations would be conditional on addressing key concerns.


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