White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki scoffed at a call by the Taliban to release $10bn in frozen cash to Afghanistan.
Afghan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi told the Associated Press that it wants a good relationship with other nations and did not have a problem with the United States. He also called for the United States to release $10bn in money that was frozen after the organisation took control of Afghanistan in August as the US prepared to end its military operations there.
“Sanctions against Afghanistan would … not have any benefit,” Mr Muttaqi told the AP on Sunday. “Making Afghanistan unstable or having a weak Afghan government is not in the interest of anyone.”
But Ms Psaki was asked about the interview during a Monday press briefing and clarified that the request was about the status of money reserves. She said the money is not available because the cash is in certain financial institutions that have risk mitigation strategies.
“There are a number of reasons why these reserves remain inaccessible,” she said. “First and foremost, the status of the funds is subject of ongoing litigation, brought by certain victims of 9/11 and other terrorist attacks who hold judgments against the Taliban.”
She added that the United States faced difficult questions about how it could make reserve money available so the people of Afghanistan could benefit but not the Taliban.
“It is difficult to determine how that would not benefit the Taliban,” she said, adding that it remains sanctioned as a terrorist group and many of its officials are subject to the United Nations’ Security Council’s sanctions regime.
“Again, we’re continuing to review but that’s the status and the reason why we have not, there is not any update on that,” Ms Psaki said.
President Joe Biden has faced repeated criticism and his approval ratings took a steep plummet after service members died while evacuating Americans and those who assisted US forces from Afghanistan.