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Tags: Afghanistan | The Latest

The Latest: Afghan Central Bank Says $9B Reserves Abroad

The Latest: Afghan Central Bank Says $9B Reserves Abroad

Wednesday, 18 August 2021 05:00 AM

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Afghanistan's central bank governor says that the country has some $9 billion in reserves abroad and not in physical cash inside the country.

Ajmal Ahmady, the head of Afghanistan’s Central Bank, wrote on Twitter on Wednesday that the majority of that — some $7 billion — is being held in U.S. Federal Reserve bonds, assets and gold.

Ahmady says Afghanistan’s holding of physical U.S. dollars “is close to zero” as the country did not receive a planned cash shipment amid the Taliban offensive that swept the country last week.

“The next shipment never arrived,” he wrote. “Seems like our partners had good intelligence as to what was going to happen.”

He noted the lack of U.S. dollars likely will see the afghani depreciate and inflation rise, hurting the poor in the country. Getting access to those reserves likely will be complicated by the U.S. government considering the Taliban a sanctioned terror group.

The “Taliban won militarily - but now have to govern,” he wrote. “It is not easy.” (edited)

MORE ON THE CRISIS IN AFGHANISTAN:

— Taliban announce ‘amnesty,’ urge women to join government

— Taliban encounter Afghan cities remade in their absence

— US agencies scrub websites to protect Afghans left behind

— Taliban take over Afghanistan: What we know and what’s next

— Biden: Afghan chaos ‘gut-wrenching’ but stands by withdrawal

— Billions spent on Afghan army ultimately benefited Taliban

— Find more AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/afghanistan

HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

LONDON — The British government says it will welcome up to 5,000 Afghan refugees this year, and a total of 20,000 Afghans will be offered a way to settle in the U.K. in the coming years.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said late Tuesday: “We owe a debt of gratitude to all those who have worked with us to make Afghanistan a better place over the last 20 years.”

The new Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme will focus on women, children, and others who have been forced to flee their home or face threats of persecution from the Taliban.

Opposition parties have criticized the plan for not going far enough to make a real difference. Nick Thomas-Symonds, of the Labour Party, said the proposal did not meet the scale of the challenge.

British lawmakers are returning to Parliament Wednesday for an emergency session to discuss Afghanistan. Johnson is set to tell lawmakers there must be an immediate increase in aid to Afghanistan to avert a humanitarian crisis erupting in the country following the Taliban’s seizure of power.

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey has has denied reports claiming that it has given up on plans to continue running Kabul’s airport, saying it was awaiting the results of ongoing talks between the Taliban and several Afghan politicians.

“We hope that they reach an agreement through peaceful means,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told Hurriyet newspaper in comments that were printed on Wednesday. “After these (talks) take place, we can talk about these things.”

Turkey, a NATO member whose some 600 troops provided security at the international airport in Kabul, has proposed to continue running and protecting the airport following the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops. The Taliban has said it wants all NATO troops to leave Afghanistan.

Cavusoglu meanwhile, defended the government’s decision to engage in talks with the Taliban, following criticism from opposition parties.

“This does not mean that we espouse their ideology. Everyone is being pragmatic,” he said.

The minister also came under criticism for saying the government welcomes “positive messages” from the Taliban.

“We said, ‘We welcome their messages,’ but we said that we are cautious, that is, we should see these (messages) applied in practice,” Cavusoglu said.

ISLAMABAD — The British prime minister and German chancellor have called their Pakistani counterpart about the rapidly evolving situation in Afghanistan, the foreign ministry said in an overnight statement.

It was their first contact with Imran Khan since the Taliban took control of the country Sunday.

According to Pakistan’s foreign ministry, Khan told Germany’s Angela Merkel that “an inclusive political settlement was the best way forward” for resolving the conflict in Afghanistan.

In a separate statement, the ministry said Khan also received a call from the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and Khan passed along a similar message.

KABUL, Afghanistan — The Taliban have blown up the statue of a Shiite militia leader who had fought against them during Afghanistan’s civil war in the 1990s.

The statue depicted a militia leader killed by the Taliban in 1996, when the Islamic militants seized power from rival warlords.

Abdul Ali Mazari was a champion of Afghanistan’s ethnic Hazara minority, Shiites who were persecuted under the Sunni Taliban’s earlier rule.

The statue stood in the central Bamyan province, where the Taliban infamously blew up two massive 1,500-year-old statues of Buddha carved into a mountain in 2001. The Taliban claimed the Buddhas violated Islam’s prohibition on idolatry.

CANBERRA, Australia — Australia has evacuated the first 26 people, including Australian and Afghan citizens, from Kabul since the Taliban overran the Afghan capital, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Wednesday.

An Air Force C-130 Hercules transport aircraft landed at an Australian military base in the United Arab Emirates with the 26 who included a foreign official working for an international agency, Morrison said. The remainder were Australians and Afghans.

“This was the first of what will be many flights, subject to clearance and weather and we do note that over the back end of this week, there is some not too favorable weather forecast,” Morrison said.

Two Hercules and two larger C-17A Globemaster transport aircraft will make further evacuation flights.

Australia plans to evacuate 130 Australians and their families plus an undisclosed number Afghans who have worked for Australian soldiers and diplomats in roles such as interpreters.

Australia’s goal is to evacuate 600 people, according to media reports. Morrison did not provide a number. “Our goal is as many as we can, as safely and as quickly as we can,” he said.

© Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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Afghanistan's central bank governor says that the country has some $9 billion in reserves abroad and not in physical cash inside the country. Ajmal Ahmady, the head of Afghanistan's Central Bank, wrote on Twitter on Wednesday that the majority of that - some $7 billion - is...
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Wednesday, 18 August 2021 05:00 AM
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