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U.S. Thanks Pakistan for Hosting OIC Summit on Afghanistan

by Newsweek Pakistan

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Photo courtesy U.S. Department of State

In separate initiatives after the summit, U.S. and U.N. ease sanctions on war-torn state to ease delivery of humanitarian aid

The United States on Wednesday thanked Pakistan for hosting the extraordinary summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Afghanistan, as it lifted certain sanctions to enable the flow of aid to the war-torn state.

A resolution unanimously adopted by the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday likewise granted permission for the utilization of economic resources to ensure timely delivery of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan.

“The OIC extraordinary session on Afghanistan is a prime example of our collective determination and action to help those most in need,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken posted on Twitter. “We thank Pakistan for hosting this vital meeting and inviting the global community to continue cooperating to support the Afghan people,” he added.

Pakistan hosted the 17th extraordinary session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the OIC last week. While the meeting concluded without the announcement of any specific aid, Muslim nations resolved to work with the U.N. to try and unlock hundreds of millions of dollars in frozen Afghan assets to help the new Taliban rulers tackle a growing humanitarian crisis. A joint resolution similarly said the Islamic Development Bank would lead the effort to free up assistance by the first quarter of next year.

On Wednesday, the U.S. formally issued three general licenses aimed at easing the provision of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan. Two of these allow U.S. officials—as well as officials of various international organization—to engage in transactions with the Taliban and the Haqqani Network “for official business.” A third license grants non-governmental organizations (NGOs) protection from U.S. sanctions on the Taliban and the Haqqani Network for work on activities such as humanitarian aid.

The U.N. Security Council, separately, unanimously adopted a U.S.-proposed resolution to facilitate humanitarian aid to Afghanistan. The resolution states that “payment of funds, other financial assets or economic resources, and the provision of goods and services necessary to ensure the timely delivery of such assistance or to support such activities are permitted.” Such assistance supports “basic human needs in Afghanistan” and is “not a violation” of sanctions imposed on entities linked to the Taliban, it adds.

The Taliban have welcomed the resolution. “We appreciate it [as] it can help Afghanistan’s economic situation,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said, adding he hoped the international community would also “speed up” removal of crippling economic and banking sanctions imposed on entities linked to the group. However, U.S. deputy U.N. ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis clarified the aid is “not a blank check for any organization to disregard its international obligations.”

Pakistan and international aid organizations have been warning of a looming humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan due to lack of financial security. Addressing the OIC summit this past Sunday, Prime Minister Imran Khan warned that if the world did not act quickly, Afghanistan could become a man-made disaster.” He said that without aid, the Taliban would not be able to maintain hospitals, education, or human rights, adding that this chaos “suits no one.”

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