US President Joe Biden Praises Afghan Evacuation Efforts, Defends Start Of “Eternal War”
Faced with difficult questions about leaving Afghanistan, including the Americans left behind, President Joe Biden called the US military airlift to extract more than 120,000 people from Kabul “an extraordinary success.”
- Mr Biden said 90% of Americans who wanted to leave Afghanistan were able to do so
- He said the international community would hold Taliban leaders accountable for their promise to allow freedom of travel
- Mr Biden highlighted Mr Trump’s role in preparing for US departure
Mr Biden has come under heavy criticism, especially from Republicans, for his handling of the final evacuation, which left more than 100 Americans behind.
Twenty-four hours after the last US C-17 cargo plane left Kabul, Mr Biden – in a speech to the nation – vigorously defended his decision to end America’s longest war and withdraw all US troops by the August 31 deadline.
“I was not going to prolong this war forever,” Biden said in a speech in the White House State Dining Room. “And I wasn’t going to extend an outing forever.”
Mr Biden said 90% of Americans who wanted to leave Afghanistan were able to do so.
Thousands of soldiers spent two grueling weeks protecting the airlift from Afghans, Americans and others seeking to escape a country once again ruled by Taliban militants.
âFor the remaining Americans, there is no deadline,â Biden said.
He said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was making continued diplomatic efforts to ensure safe passage for any American, Afghan partner or foreign national who wished to leave Afghanistan after the Aug. 15 takeover by the Islamist Taliban.
He said the international community would hold the Taliban leaders accountable for their pledge to allow freedom of travel.
“The Taliban have made public commitments, broadcast on television and radio across Afghanistan, to a safe passage for anyone who wants to leave, including those who have worked alongside the Americans,” he said. .
“We don’t just take their word for it, but their actions, and we have leverage to make sure those commitments are met.”
Biden highlights Trump role in messy exit
Mr Biden criticized the inability of the ousted Afghan government to counter the rapid advances of the Taliban, which forced the United States and its NATO allies into a hasty exit, and stressed the role played by the former US President Donald Trump.
The deal Mr. Trump broke authorized “the release of 5,000 prisoners last year, including some of the Taliban’s top war commanders, among those who have just taken control,” Biden said.
But he said it was inevitable that the final departure of two decades of war would be difficult and violent, no matter when it was planned and carried out.
âTo those who ask for a third decade of war in Afghanistan, I ask, ‘What is the vital national interest?’,â Biden said.
“I just don’t believe America’s safety and security is enhanced by continuing to deploy thousands of American troops and spending billions of dollars in Afghanistan.”
ABC / son