KABUL, Afghanistan – Following the establishment of a foundation for managing $3.5 billion in frozen Afghan funds, China called on the US government to fully release the country’s assets and lift all unilateral sanctions against Afghanistan.
The remarks came days after the US government announced the creation of a foundation based in Switzerland that will use the money help address the unfolding economic and humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, which is roughly half of the total asset.
Mao Ning, a spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that America should take the majority of the responsibility for the reconstruction of Afghanistan.
“These assets of the Afghan central bank frozen by the US are the national property of Afghanistan and the life-saving money of the Afghans,” she said, as TOLOnews quoted.
“They should have been returned to Afghanistan in full at once, should have been handled independently by Afghanistan itself and should have been used to improve people’s livelihood and advance peace and reconstruction in Afghanistan without hindrance,” she further said.
“We call on the US side to fully unfreeze the assets and lift unilateral sanctions on the country as soon as possible, take concrete actions to fulfil its primary responsibility for Afghanistan’s peace and reconstruction and show accountability to the world,” Mao Ning exclaimed.
But the US Treasury department in statement Wednesday said “the Afghan Fund will protect, preserve, and make targeted disbursements of that $3.5 billion to help provide greater stability to the Afghan economy” without enriching Taliban.
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Earlier, the Switzerland Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement about the purpose of the foundation, elaborating the mechanism on how the budget should be monitored and spent that will benefit the people of Afghanistan.
“The purpose of the foundation is to receive, protect, preserve for the future and partially disburse part of the Afghan central bank’s assets, which are currently frozen in the US,” the statement reads. “In its role as a member of the board of trustees, Switzerland is helping to create medium- and long-term prospects for the people of Afghanistan.”
According to the statement, funds amounting to around USD 3.5 billion are to be used by the foundation to promote macroeconomic stability in Afghanistan, for example to service debts to international organizations or to import electricity.
In February, President Biden signed an executive order to free $7 billion in Afghan assets now frozen in the US, splitting the money between humanitarian aid for poverty-stricken Afghanistan and a fund for families of 9/11 victims still seeking relief for the attacks that killed thousands.
However, last month, a New York court has denied the request to compensate 9/11 victim families from Afghanistan’s frozen foreign reserves, terminating President Joe Biden’s executive order to split the $7 billion in Afghan asset between poverty-stricken Afghanistan and families of 9/11 victim.
United States Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn made the recommendation that still is under review for a final decision. The court letter was tweeted by the Chargé d’Affaires of Afghanistan’s Permanent Mission to the United Nation Naseer Ahmad Faiq.
“The Taliban’s victims have fought for years for justice, accountability and compensation. They are entitled to no less,” the posted letter said. “But the law limits what compensation the court may authorize, and those limits put the DAB’s assets beyond its authority.”
“The court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the turnover motion because the Judgment Creditors have not overcome DAB’s immunity from jurisdiction,” the letter elaborated. “And even if they had, the Court cannot find that DAB is an agency or instrumentality of the Taliban under TRIA § 201 without infringing on the President’s constitutional recognition prerogative.”
Since then, it remained unclear whether the other half of the Afghan frozen asset will be given to the 9/11 victims.