Afghanistan’s regional neighbours form a new grouping over the country’s future

Meeting in Tashkent, special representatives from Afghanistan’s neighbours as well as Russia have agreed to form a working group to regularly discuss the situation in Afghanistan.

Representatives from China, Iran, Russia, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan met on Tuesday and urged the West to unfreeze Afghanistan’s central bank assets, reports Reuters.

The Uzbek special representative for Afghanistan, Ismatilla Ergashev, said:

 “The representatives of these countries emphasised that the return of the money of the Central Bank of Afghanistan should be used primarily to pay the salaries of… schoolteachers and doctors, and at the same time to support the part of the population which is in a difficult situation.”

The Taliban has not commented. It is unclear if the group had been invited to the meeting.

The US government froze $7 billion in Afghan central bank assets that were held in reserve. Later, this amount was divided in half. $3.5 billion was transferred to a trust fund in Switzerland, while the other half is currently subject to a legal claim by victims of the 9/11 attacks.

Last month, the fund’s trustees met to explore options on how to use the fund to provide stability to the Afghan economy.