Taliban will not be allowed access to more than $9 billion of Afghan central bank reserves held outside the country, Washington says, as Afghanistan struggles to contain a deepening economic crisis.

Taliban fighters pray at Deh Bori square in Kabul, Afghanistan on October 18, 2021.
Taliban fighters pray at Deh Bori square in Kabul, Afghanistan on October 18, 2021. (Reuters)

Afghanistan's new rulers, the Taliban, who regained power in August after the collapse of the US-backed government, will not be allowed to access Afghan central bank reserves, which are largely held in the United States, Washington has said.

"We believe that it's essential that we maintain our sanctions against the Taliban but at the same time find ways for legitimate humanitarian assistance to get to the Afghan people. That's exactly what we're doing," Deputy US Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo told the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday. 

The Taliban has called for the United States to lift a block on more than $9 billion of Afghan central bank reserves held outside the country as the government struggles to contain a deepening economic crisis.

The Taliban took back power in Afghanistan in August after the United States pulled out its troops, almost 20 years after the group was ousted by US-led forces following September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

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Difficult choices

Washington and other Western countries are grappling with difficult choices as a severe humanitarian crisis looms large in Afghanistan. 

They are trying to work out how to engage with the Taliban without granting them the legitimacy it seeks while ensuring humanitarian aid flows into the country.

"Our goal is to make sure that we are implementing our sanctions regime against the Taliban and the Haqqani network, but at the same time allowing for the permissible flow of humanitarian assistance into the country," Adeyemo said.

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Adeyemo said the Treasury was taking every step it could within its sanctions regime to make clear to humanitarian groups that Washington wants to facilitate the flow of aid to the Afghan people, but warned that for humanitarian assistance to flow, the Taliban have to allow it to happen within the country.

The Treasury last month further paved the way for aid to flow to Afghanistan despite US sanctions on the Taliban when it issued two general licenses.

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies