Strapped for cash, the Taliban met with officials from UK in Kabul for first time since taking power

Business Insider US
Taliban commanders speaking to reporters in September 2021.

  • The UK met with the Taliban on Tuesday, the first meeting since the group took over in August.
  • The Taliban is working to increase their spending capacity by engaging with other countries.
  • The US froze $9.5 billion of Afghanistan's reserve assets after the group took over.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Representatives from the United Kingdom met with the Taliban in Kabul, the first meeting since the group took over Afghanistan in August.

In a tweet, chargé d'affaires (envoy) of the UK mission to Afghanistan in Doha, Martin Longden, said he and the British prime minister's high representative for Afghan transition, Sir Simon Gass, had their first diplomatic visit on Tuesday.

Longden said issues including the humanitarian crisis, terrorism, and women's rights were discussed. The Associated Press reported that despite the Taliban's wish, Longden did not formally recognize their government.

"It's early days and, unsurprisingly, there are points of difference between us. But such difficult challenges lie ahead for Afghanistan (and beyond), it's right to test if we can engage pragmatically and find common ground - in the interests of both the UK and Afghan peoples," he said.

The AP reported that the Taliban was hoping the meeting could help them find a solution to their lack of funds.

The Taliban took over Kabul on August 15, forcing foreign powers to leave the country by the end of August. That same month, the US froze most of the Afghan central bank's $9.5 billion in assets.

Robert Hockett, a Cornell University professor of law and finance, previously told Insider's Natalie Musumeci that the Taliban is likely to never see those funds.

Al Jazeera reported that Abdul Qahar Balkhi, the Taliban's foreign ministry spokesman, said after Tuesday's meeting that they wanted the UK to "begin a new chapter of constructive relations".

In a statement, to the AP, the Taliban also said it was "committed" to maintaining good ties to other countries.

"In return, we want the international community to return the cash capital of the Afghan nation to our nation," the Taliban told the AP in reference to the $9.5 billion frozen assets.

The AP also reported that aid to the country that accounted for 75% of its spending has been paused since the Taliban took over.

In another move to increase the country's spending capacity, the Taliban also held meetings with neighboring Iran to discuss regulating trade, the AP reported.

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