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Taliban won't be allowed access to Afghan Central Bank reserves: US Treasury official

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Economist Adewale "Wally" Adeyemo listens to questions during his Senate Finance Committee nomination hearing to be deputy secretary of the Treasury in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, in Washington, DC, the US, on February 23, 2021. (Photo by Reuters)

A US Treasury official has ruled out any possibility of allowing the Taliban to gain access to Afghan Central Bank reserves, which are largely held in the United States.

Deputy US Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo made the remark at the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday, after the Taliban called for the United States to lift a block on more than $9 billion of Afghan Central Bank reserves held outside the country.

"We believe that it's essential that we maintain our sanctions against the Taliban but at the same time find ways for legitimate humanitarian assistance to get to the Afghan people. That's exactly what we're doing," Adeyemo said.

"Our goal is to make sure that we are implementing our sanctions regime against the Taliban…," he said, "but at the same time allowing for the permissible flow of humanitarian assistance into the country."

Adeyemo said the Treasury was taking every step it could within its sanctions regime to make clear to humanitarian groups that Washington wants to facilitate the flow of aid to the Afghan people.

However, he warned that the Taliban had to allow the flow of humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan.

The latest development comes as the Taliban's new interim government is struggling to contain a deepening economic crisis.

The war-ravaged country also needs urgent international action to support millions of people struggling with rising hunger and the collapse of services.

The Taliban's efforts to stabilize the situation have been undermined by international sanctions, as banks are running out of cash and civil servants are going unpaid.

The Taliban have warned Western diplomats that insisting on sanctions as a means to pressure their governance could undermine security and trigger a wave of economic refugees.

They have also warned the United States against destabilizing the government in Afghanistan, asking Washington to lift the ban on the Afghan Central Bank reserves.

Earlier this month, representatives from the Taliban and the United States held their first face-to-face meeting in the Qatari capital, Doha, since the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan. Washington said in those talks that it would free up the flow of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan after agreeing not to link such assistance to the formal recognition of the Taliban.

The Taliban announced the formation of a caretaker government on September 7. They first ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, when the United States invaded the country on the pretext of fighting terrorism following the September 11 attacks in the US.

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