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State Department Confirms, We Will Not Release the Afghan Reserves Held in the United States

Oct. 14, 2021 (EIRNS)—During the Schiller Institute international Day of Action today to organize for the U.S. to unfreeze Afghanistan’s $9 billion in national assets, State Department spokesman Ned Price reiterated the refusal by the United States. The following is the transcript of the question and answer from this afternoon’s briefing.

Q: I know you’ve been asked about this, but I want to talk about the billions frozen in the U.S. Jan Egeland, Norwegian Refugee Council, who has been working on these issues for a long time, put it to me this way last night: “Why is the U.S. sitting on the fence when it comes to unfreezing billions of dollars?” So I will ask you: Do you believe the U.S. is sitting on the fence when it comes to unfreezing billions of dollars that humanitarians say are for the Afghan people and can be delivered in a way that wouldn’t benefit the Taliban?

Ned Price: Let me answer this question this way: We are absolutely not sitting on the fence when it comes to our humanitarian commitment to the Afghan people. We have demonstrated that time and again, including with significant humanitarian pledges—nearly $64 million just a few weeks ago for the Afghan people, $330 million in this fiscal year alone for the Afghan people that has benefited Afghanistan’s women and girls. It has provided health opportunities for the Afghan people. It has provided food, nutrition, the basic lifesaving services that far too many of Afghan—of the Afghan people need today. And we will continue to be a humanitarian leader when it comes to supporting the people of Afghanistan.

Now, it is true that the Taliban does not have access to the reserves that are held in the United States, and we have been very clear on that as well. Where we are—you might say sitting on the fence—is because we want to see and to judge any future Afghan government by its conduct. And we have been very clear about the conduct that matters immensely to us. It is holding the Taliban accountable to their commitments to safe passage and freedom of movement, to their counterterrorism commitments, to respecting the fundamental human rights of all of Afghan—of all of the people of Afghanistan, including women and girls, and it’s allowing humanitarian access to go back to where we started.

So we will judge any future Afghan government primarily on those criteria. And again, it is not just us, and it is—by the way, it is not just United States where Afghanistan’s foreign currency reserves are stored. This is something the international community has made very clear. So we are, of course, not in a position to provide financial support to the Taliban or any future Afghan government until and unless we see to it that these core requirements are being met and the rights of the people of Afghanistan are being fully respected, enforced.

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