Move would block Taliban from accessing money stored in US bank accounts.
CHICAGO, United States (AA) – The Biden administration froze Afghanistan government reserves held in US bank accounts as the Taliban rolled into the capital of Kabul, according to a report on Tuesday.
Two people familiar with the matter told the Washington Post that Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, along with the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, decided to freeze the accounts on Sunday, shutting out access to the Taliban.
Government officials have not confirmed the report but an administration official told the newspaper: “Any Central Bank assets the Afghan government have in the United States will not be made available to the Taliban.”
The State Department is also said to have played a part in the decision.
Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world, long ravaged by war, and has relied heavily on US aid in the last 20 years.
Asked how the administration could keep its promise to provide aid to the Afghan people while not yet declaring if the US would recognize the Taliban as leaders of Afghanistan, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said the US provides aid to several countries, “including some very difficult or non-existent relationships with governments where we still provide aid to people.”
A source told the Post that the majority of reserves are not kept in Afghanistan but the US, although the exact amount is not known.
The decision to freeze the assets, if confirmed, would represent the start of major decisions the US has to tackle with the sudden Taliban takeover of Kabul, and the swift exit of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.