Unfreeze Afghan assets abroad, neighbour Uzbekistan says By Reuters

Unfreeze Afghan assets abroad, neighbour Uzbekistan says By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev attends a news conference with his Kazakh counterpart Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in Tashkent, Uzbekistan April 15, 2019. REUTERS/Mukhtar Kholdorbekov/File Photo

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev urged other nations on Friday to unfreeze Afghanistan’s assets kept in foreign banks to facilitate dialogue with the Taliban government in Kabul.

Following the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration has said any central bank assets the Afghan government has in the United States will not be made available to the Taliban.

The International Monetary Fund has said Afghanistan will not have access to the lender’s resources.

Speaking at a meeting of a China- and Russia-led security bloc, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), Mirziyoyev, whose country borders Afghanistan, called for talks between the bloc and the Taliban and for efforts to prevent the rise of extremism.

Unfreezing Afghan assets, he said, could help achieve those goals.

“Considering the humanitarian situation, we propose looking into the possibility of lifting the freeze on Afghanistan’s accounts in foreign banks,” he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who spoke at the same meeting through a video link, also called for contacts between the SCO and Kabul but did not mention any other concrete steps.

The bloc met in Tajikistan, another former Soviet republic bordering Afghanistan. Its leaders said they were beginning the process of accepting Iran into the organisation which also includes India and Pakistan.

In a speech at the same meeting, Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan, called for economic support for Afghanistan.

“Urgent priorities are to prevent a humanitarian crisis and an economic meltdown. We must remember that the previous government depended heavily on foreign aid and its removal could lead to economic collapse,” he said.

“Going forward, we believe positive engagement of the international community with Afghanistan is extremely important.”

He said the Taliban should create an “inclusive political structure” that included representation of all ethnic groups and prevent Afghan soil from being used for international militancy.

Pakistan has had deep ties with the Taliban and has been accused of supporting the group as it battled the U.S.-backed government in Kabul for 20 years – charges denied by Islamabad.

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