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U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Saudi Arabia is the most important US partner in the region in the fight against financing terrorism, pointing out that the Saudi Crown Prince’s call for openness and moderation would lead the region to a promising future.

Mnuchin said that during his current visit he will discuss with US allies in the region opportunities to work together to counter Iran’s threatening activities through its Revolutionary Guard Corps.

This will include a focus on taking aggressive actions against Hezbollah, whose main benefactor is Iran.

“Hezbollah poses a threat across the Middle East and beyond, and we must jointly use our authorities to disrupt its financiers and financial networks,” Mnuchin noted on the sidelines of the Future Investment Initiative Conference, which is taking place in Riyadh.

“We also remain focused on stopping the support networks of terrorist groups in Afghanistan, such as the Taliban. We are working on disrupting the Taliban’s ability to raise funds domestically and abroad,” he added.

The US Treasury Secretary said that he is pleased to add to these critical efforts by opening the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center and to serve as a co-chair of this Center with Saudi Arabia.

“The Kingdom is one of our important partners on countering the financing of terrorism. We have curtailed charities that finance al-Qaeda, issued joint designations with Saudi Arabia, targeting the fundraising networks of al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, the Taliban, and Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, and we will continue to look to Saudi Arabia to be a leader on these issues in the Gulf.”

Over the years, Treasury has designated thousands of individuals and entities, contributing to US and allied efforts to stop terrorist regimes, disrupt and dismantle criminal organizations and target those that will do the US any harm.

Sanctions and other Treasury measures, combined with active diplomatic and law enforcement efforts, are central to applying maximum economic pressure to counter a wide range of threats, said Mnuchin.

“We have targeted individuals and entities facilitating funds and procurement in support of North Korea’s weapons program.”

In September, President Trump authorized Treasury to impose a new range of sanctions on shipping networks that support the Kim regime.

“We now have the ability to suspend correspondent accounts and freeze assets of any foreign financial institution that knowingly conducts significant transactions in connection with any trade with North Korea. We will use these new tools carefully to cut off flows of funds available to North Korea to pursue its dangerous and destabilizing nuclear and missile programs.”

Mnuchin also pointed out that ISIS has raised hundreds of millions of dollars through the theft of oil, kidnapping, and extortion, adding that sanctions and targeted operations have been effective in reducing these flows and degrading ISIS’s ability to exploit the international financial system to further its extremist ideology.

ASHARQ AL AWSAT

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