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Portman, Rubio Urge Treasury to Resist the Release of Internationally-Held Reserves to the Taliban

August 30, 2021

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Press releases

CINCINNATI, OH – US Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) sent a letter to Finance Minister Janet Yellen urging her to “use all necessary means to keep all the international reserve assets of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan from the hands of the illegitimate Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan to the Taliban and to firmly oppose any efforts to release these funds. The senators stressed that “the release of any reserve assets of the Taliban-controlled Afghan government would be tantamount to providing resources for malicious actors in direct conflict with US interests.”

The full text of the letter is below and here.

Dear Secretary Yellen:

We are writing to urge you to use all necessary means to retain all internationally held reserve assets of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan from the hands of the illegal Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in the Taliban, and to strongly oppose any efforts to release those funds. . The Taliban have failed to meet their international commitments and remain subject to US sanctions under Executive Order 13224. The release of any reserve assets by the Taliban-controlled Afghan government would be tantamount to providing a resource for malicious actors in direct conflict with the interests of the Taliban. United States. We must not allow this to happen.

On August 17, reports emerged that the Biden administration had frozen the Afghan government’s access to its US-based reserve funds after it became clear that the Taliban would take control of Kabul. In June 2021, Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB) reported nearly $ 10 billion in reserve assets, with most of the funding retained internationally. Ajmal Ahmadi, a former acting governor of the DAB who recently fled the country, publicly confirmed that the DAB’s reserves were approximately $ 9 billion in August. According to Mr Ahmadi, most of these assets are held outside the country and include US currency and bonds, as well as gold and World Bank Reserve Consulting and Management (RAMP) funding. Mr Ahmadi noted that the decision by the United States and other countries to block reserve funds had cut off access to the Taliban to nearly 99.9 per cent of its reserves.

This was a vital first step that should not be overturned under any circumstances. However, work remains to be done to ensure that international resources remain out of the Taliban’s hands. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has approved approximately $ 650 billion in a new Special Drawing Rights (SDR) allocation in a bid to “increase global liquidity” and strengthen official reserves for recipient countries. According to recent reports, approximately $ 450 million of this funding will be allocated to Afghanistan. We understand that the IMF has temporarily blocked Afghanistan’s access to SDR reserves. We call on you to intervene with the IMF to ensure that any Taliban-controlled government continues to receive no such distribution.

We also call on you to work with US allies to systematically review all foreign sources of funding available to the Afghan government, including aid and funding, such as the Afghan Reconstruction Trust Fund, which the Taliban may seek to use in the coming days. and to freeze all funds that will go directly to – or rely on distribution from – the Taliban. We also call on you to work with our allies and partners and relevant United Nations agencies to identify sources of funding and ensure that none of them fall into the hands of the Taliban.

The Taliban are sponsors of terrorism who have close ties to al Qaeda, and therefore cannot be trusted to distribute money to the Afghan people, who desperately need them, and will instead use all means to actively pursue hostile priorities. of US interests. We can and must work to establish alternative means of supporting the Afghan people, but we cannot allow any resources to be used to strengthen the oppressive regime of the Taliban. We look forward to your confirmation that the administration will under no circumstances allow the Taliban to access funds held in the United States or through the IMF and other similar entities.

Thank you for your time and attention on this issue and we look forward to receiving your prompt reply.

At your disposal,

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