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Taliban thank world for promised aid to Afghanistan

Taliban urge US to show heart. (Source: AP)

KABUL: The Taliban on Tuesday thanked the world for pledging hundreds of millions of dollars in emergency aid to Afghanistan, while urging the United States to show heart to the country.

Acting foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, while addressing a press conference, said Taliban would spend donor money wisely and use it to alleviate poverty. “The Islamic Emirate will try its best to deliver this aid to the needy people in a completely transparent manner,” Muttaqi said.

He also asked Washington to show appreciation for the Taliban allowing the US to complete a troop withdrawal and evacuation of more than 120,000 people last month. “America is a big country, they need to have a big heart,” he added.

The acting foreign minister further said that Afghanistan, which is also facing a drought, had already received aid from countries such as Pakistan, Qatar and Uzbekistan, but did not give further details.

He said he had held discussions with China’s ambassador on the coronavirus vaccine and other humanitarian causes, with Beijing pledging $15 million which will be available “soon”.

A donor conference in Geneva on Monday saw countries promise a total of $1.2 billion in aid for Afghanistan, which was taken over by the group last month in a lightning offensive that took retreating US troops by surprise.

Afghanistan, already heavily dependent on aid, is facing an economic crisis, with the new authorities unable to pay salaries and food prices soaring.

Since the Taliban takeover, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund have halted Afghanistan’s access to funding, while the United States has also frozen cash held in its reserve for Kabul.

UN chief Antonio Guterres on Monday said he believed aid could be used as leverage with the Taliban to exact improvements on human rights, amid fears of a return to the brutal rule that characterised the group’s first regime from 1996 to 2001.

“It is impossible to provide humanitarian assistance inside Afghanistan without engaging with the de facto authorities,” the UN secretary-general told ministers attending the Geneva talks.