TALIBAN ASK US CONGRESS RELEASE AFGHAN ASSETS

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The Taliban called Wednesday on US Congress members to release Afghan assets frozen after their takeover of the country, warning economic turmoil at home could lead to trouble abroad.

In an open letter, Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi said the biggest challenge facing Afghanistan was financial insecurity, “and the roots of this concern lead back to the freezing of assets of our people by the American government”.

Washington has seized nearly $9.5 billion in assets belonging to the Afghan central bank, and the aid-dependent economy has effectively collapsed — with civil servants unpaid for months and the treasury unable to pay for imports.

Concerned nations have pledged hundreds of millions of dollars in aid, but are reluctant to commit funds unless the Taliban agree to a more inclusive government and to guarantee the rights of women and minorities.

“I present to you our compliments and would like to share a few thoughts on our bilateral relations,” Muttaqi wrote, noting that 2021 was the centenary of Washington recognizing Afghanistan’s sovereignty.

In measured understatement, he added: “Akin to other world countries, our bilateral relations have also experienced ups and downs.”

Muttaqi said Afghanistan was enjoying stable government for the first time in over 40 years — a period that started with an invasion by the Soviet Union in 1979 and ended with the withdrawal of the last US troops on August 31.

From 1996 to 2001, the Taliban ruled Afghanistan with an iron fist, brutally violating human rights in the name of Islamic law, sparking fears of a return of their abuses

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