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Biden administration does not plan to release frozen Afghan assets soon over concerns they may be diverted to terror groups

“We do not see recapitalization of the Afghan central bank as a near-term option,” said Tom West, the State Department’s special representative for Afghanistan.

West said that “the Taliban’s sheltering of al Qa’ida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri reinforces deep concerns we have regarding diversion of funds to terrorist groups.”

A National Security Council spokesperson pointed to progress in establishing a mechanism to release the funds, but cited Zawahiri’s presence in Kabul as having a direct impact on how the administration deals with the Taliban.

“We have been engaged with foreign counterparts in efforts to support the establishment of an international trust fund with robust safeguards to enable the use of Afghan reserves for the benefit of the Afghan people given Afghanistan’s ongoing economic and humanitarian crisis,” the NSC spokesperson said. “We have made considerable progress and our focus right now is on supporting the establishment of this fund. The recent revelations of the Taliban’s flagrant violation of the Doha agreement illustrate the importance of remaining clear-eyed in our dealings with the Taliban. Our approach to the future of these assets will continue to reflect that reality.”

This decision not to move on the releasing of the funds anytime soon comes about six months after President Joe Biden signed an executive order allowing for the $7 billion in frozen assets from Afghanistan’s central bank to eventually be distributed inside the country and to…

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