Thursday, August 5, 2021

Afghans must decide own future; US troops to leave on August 31: Biden

President Joe Biden set a target date of Aug 31 for the final withdrawal of US forces, minus about 650 troops to provide security for the US embassy in Kabul, and said thousands of Afghan interpreters will be moved to safety.

 

President Joe Biden on Thursday strongly defended his decision to pull U.S. military forces out of Afghanistan, saying the Afghan people must decide their own future and that he would not consign another generation of Americans to the 20-year war.

Speaking in the White House East Room, Biden said the Afghan military has the ability to repel the Taliban, denying reports that US intelligence had forecast a collapse of the US-backed government in Kabul in six months amid warnings of a civil war.

Biden set a target date of Aug. 31 for the final withdrawal of U.S. forces, minus about 650 troops to provide security for the U.S. embassy in Kabul, and said thousands of Afghan interpreters will be moved to safety.

A long-time skeptic of the 20-year military presence in Afghanistan, Biden said the United States had long ago achieved its original rationale for invading the country in 2001: to root out al-Qaeda militants and prevent another attack on the United States like the one launched on Sept.11, 2001. The mastermind of that attack, Osama bin Laden, was killed by a U.S. military team in neighboring Pakistan in 2011.

Addressing critics of his decision directly, Biden asked: “How many thousands more Americans, daughters and sons, were you willing to risk? How long would you have them stay?” “I will not send another generation of Americans to war in Afghanistan with no reasonable expectation of achieving a different outcome,” he said.

The speech represented Biden`s most extensive comments to date about the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan under pressure from critics to give more explanation for his decision to withdraw. Biden called on countries in the region to help bring about an elusive political settlement between the warring parties. He said the Afghan government should seek a deal with the Taliban to allow them to coexist peacefully.

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