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Mnuchin announces Iran, Taleban sanctions

US Treasury Secretary meets Saudi Crown Prince

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the threat of tariffs on all US$500 billion of goods China exports to the US was a realistic possibility, and that the US wanted “a more balanced relationship”. Photo: AFP

WASHINGTON, Oct 23, (Agencies): Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says that the United States and six other Middle East countries are taking action to expose and disrupt terrorist activities being conducted by the Taleban and Iran to undermine the government of Afghanistan. Mnuchin says the seven countries have designated nine individuals associated with the Taleban and their Iranian sponsors for sanctions.

The seven nations make up the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center which has an operations center in Saudi Arabia. Mnuchin met with the crown prince of Saudi Arabia on Monday after announcing last week that he would not attend an investment conference in Saudi Arabia following the death of a journalist in the Saudi consulate in Turkey. The administration sees Saudi Arabia as a key ally in its sanctions campaign against Iran. The individuals, which include two Pakistanis and four Afghans, were identified as global terrorists by the Treasury Department, an action that allows the US government to freeze property or interest in property under American jurisdiction.

The sanctions target Taleban members, who are involved in suicide attacks and other lethal activities, as well as Iranians who provide material and financial support, Treasury said in a statement. “Iran’s provision of military training, financing, and weapons to the Taleban is yet another example of Tehran’s blatant regional meddling and support for terrorism.

The United States and our partners will not tolerate the Iranian regime exploiting Afghanistan to further their destabilizing behavior. The new sanctions follow a spate of violence in Afghanistan that preceded the country’s parliamentary elections last week.

On Thursday, US Army Brigadier General Jeffrey Smiley, was confirmed as one of two Americans wounded an attack that killed the police chief of the southern Afghan province of Kandahar. The attack, which was claimed by the Taleban, was a devastating blow to the government, decapitating the security command of one of Afghanistan’s most strategically important provinces and demonstrating the insurgents’ ability to strike even top leaders. Mnuchin on Monday held closeddoor talks in Riyadh with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has faced a global backlash over journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder.

The official Saudi Press Agency said they stressed “the importance of the Saudi-US strategic partnership” in a meeting on the eve of a key investment conference in Riyadh. Mnuchin is among a wave of Western political leaders who pulled out of the Future Investment Initiative (FII) amid global outrage over the journalist’s murder in Saudi Arabia’s Istanbul consulate. Mnuchin’s withdrawal from the investment conference came after top financial, trade and foreign officials from Britain, France and Germany also dropped out.

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