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China Implores US to Stop Sitting on Afghanistan's Assets

Sputnik News

Ilya Tsukanov

In February, the Biden administration split $7 billion in Afghan Central Bank funds into a $3.5 billion 'humanitarian trust', and a separate $3.5 billion slush fund for 'the victims of the 9/11 terror attacks'. The Taliban*, Russia, China, other countries and the United Nations have slammed Washington over the decision.

The United States must immediately reverse its decision on Afghanistan's foreign-held assets and return them to the impoverished country to help ease the humanitarian crisis in the country, Zhang Jun, China's permanent representative to the United Nations, has urged.

"The Afghan people need every bit of these resources. That's why it's unjustified to freeze Afghanistan's foreign assets," Zhang said, speaking at a meeting of the UN Security Council.

Calling on the US to take heed of calls by Secretary General Antonio Guterres and humanitarian agencies on the conditions-free return of Afghanistan's assets, the Chinese diplomat stressed that Beijing was in favor of "comprehensive measures" to support the war-torn country's development.

"At a time when the Afghan people are most in need of resources, it is unreasonable, unjustifiable and unacceptable to freeze their sizable overseas asset," Zhang stressed.

Afghanistan's Pakita province was rocked by a deadly 6.1 magnitude earthquake on Wednesday, leaving at least 1,000 people dead, thousands more injured and over 10,000 homes damaged or destroyed.

The State Department assured that Washington "stands with the people of Afghanistan and will continue to lead the international community in responding to their humanitarian needs."

"Saw US officials claim that the US 'stands with the people of Afghanistan'. Then why not give the $7 billion back to the Afghans?" Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying shot back on Twitter.

"China is ready to provide emergency humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan to respond to its needs," she added. Beijing has promised to provide an additional $7.5 million in humanitarian aid to its neighbor in the wake of Wednesday's quake.

On Saturday, the Taliban urged foreign governments to end sanctions and for the US to release the billions in frozen and seized Afghan Central Bank assets it has in its coffers, calling the money Afghans' "basic right."

"The Islamic Emirate is asking the world to give the Afghans their most basic right, which is their right to life and that is through lifting the sanctions and unfreezing our assets and also giving assistance," Taliban foreign affairs spokesman Abdul Qahar Balkhi said.

President Biden signed an executive order in February seizing $7 billion in Afghan Central Bank assets in the US, splitting the fund in two into a humanitarian fund and a trust which can be used to pay 9/11 victims. The Taliban blasted the US decision, calling it a "showcase" of America's "human and moral decline." Former US-installed president of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai slammed the move as well, saying Afghans were also the victims of the 9/11 attacks and that withholding or seizing their money was "unjust and unfair and an atrocity against Afghan people."

The US has justified its seizure of Afghanistan's assets by pointing to the Taliban's sheltering of al-Qaeda** leader Osama bin Laden before and after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The Afghan militant group has insisted that Washington has yet to provide it with proof that bin Laden was behind the attacks.

Along with China, the US seizure of Afghanistan's assets and sanctions have been criticized by Russia, and by the United Nations, with the latter warning that US policy was responsible for an "epic humanitarian crisis on the verge of a development catastrophe."

Afghanistan has been in a state of exacerbated economic and humanitarian crisis since the collapse of the US puppet government in Kabul in August 2021, less than two weeks after the Taliban began taking over major cities, and less than four months after the US and its allies announced that they would be withdrawing from the conflict after nearly 20 years of occupation.

* A group under United Nations sanctions for terrorist activities.

** A terrorist group outlawed in Russia and many other countries.

© Sputnik

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