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Biden to split frozen Afghan funds for 9/11 victims, relief

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By AAMER MADHANI and KATHY GANNON

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is expected to issue an executive order on Friday to split the $7 billion in Afghan assets frozen in the U.S. to fund humanitarian relief in Afghanistan and to create a third-party trust fund to compensate victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to two senior Biden administration officials.

The order will require U.S. financial institutions to facilitate access to $3.5 billion for Afghan relief and basic needs. The other $3.5 billion would remain in the United States and be used to fund ongoing litigation by U.S. victims of terrorism, the official said. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the decision had not been formally announced.

International funding to Afghanistan was suspended and billions of dollars of the country’s assets abroad, mostly in the United States, were frozen after the Taliban took control of the country in August as the U.S. military withdrew.

Afghanistan’s long-troubled economy has been in a tailspin since the Taliban takeover. Nearly 80% of the previous Afghan government’s budget came from the international community. That money, now cut off, financed hospitals, schools, factories and government ministries. Desperation for such basic necessities has been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as health care shortages, drought and malnutrition.

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