Afghan finance and central bank officials from the Taliban-led government departed for Qatar on Wednesday to meet with a U.S. Treasury department official, after last week’s deadly earthquake highlighted how critical relief efforts have stumbled under the weight of the country’s spiralling economic woes.
Last week’s devastating earthquake in southeastern Afghanistan killed around 770 people, according to UN figures. The UN says 155 children are among those killed.
News of a meeting between Taliban government officials and U.S. officials was confirmed by Taliban Foreign Ministry spokesman Hafiz Zia Ahmad, who said the Afghan delegation will be led by Foreign Minister Maulvi Amir Khan Muttaqi. He said the officials will meet in Doha, Qatar, with the U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and officials from the U.S. Treasury Department to discuss Afghanistan’s economic and banking sectors.
Deal in the works
The Washington Post first reported on Tuesday that senior Biden administration officials are working with Taliban leadership on a mechanism to allow Afghanistan’s government to use its central bank reserves to deal with the country's severe hunger and poverty crises while erecting safeguards to ensure the funds are not misused.
The Biden administration froze some $9 billion in foreign Afghan central reserves after the Taliban seized power in last August, prompting a chaotic and deadly withdrawal of U.S. and NATO allied forces.