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Joe Biden defends US pull-out as Taliban claim victory

 WASHINGTON:US President Joe Biden has defended his decision to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan - a move which led to Taliban militants returning to power.

Staying longer was not an option, Mr Biden said in an address to the nation, a day after the end of a 20-year US presence in Afghanistan.

He praised troops for organising an airlift of more than 120,000 people wishing to flee the Taliban regime.

Biden said,”We completed one of the biggest airlifts in history, with more than 120,000 people evacuated to safety.  That number is more than double what most experts thought were possible.  No nation — no nation has ever done anything like it in all of history.  Only the United States had the capacity and the will and the ability to do it, and we did it today.

The extraordinary success of this mission was due to the incredible skill, bravery, and selfless courage of the United States military and our diplomats and intelligence professionals.

 He said that more than 300,000 Afghan National Security Forces  had een  trained over the past two decades and equipped which would have a strong adversary in their civil wars with the Taliban.

So, we were ready when the Afghan Security Forces — after two decades of fighting for their country and losing thousands of their own — did not hold on as long as anyone expected.

He said,”We were ready when they and the people of Afghanistan watched their own government collapse and their president flee amid the corruption and malfeasance, handing over the country to their enemy, the Taliban, and significantly increasing the risk to U.S. personnel and our Allies”.

As a result, to safely extract American citizens before August 31st — as well as embassy personnel, Allies and partners, and those Afghans who had worked with us and fought alongside of us for 20 years — I had authorized 6,000 troops — American troops — to Kabul to help secure the airport.

 

He said that leaving August the 31st is not due to an arbitrary deadline; it was designed to save American lives.

The former President Donald Trump, signed an agreement with the Taliban to remove U.S. troops by May the 1st, just months after I was inaugurated.  It included no requirement that the Taliban work out a cooperative governing arrangement with the Afghan government, but it did authorize the release of 5,000 prisoners last year, including some of the Taliban’s top war commanders, among those who just took control of Afghanistan,he said.

And by the time I came to office, the Taliban was in its strongest military position since 2001, controlling or contesting nearly half of the country.

The previous administration’s agreement said that if we stuck to the May 1st deadline that they had signed on to leave by, the Taliban wouldn’t attack any American forces, but if we stayed, all bets were off.

 So we were left with a simple decision: Either follow through on the commitment made by the last administration and leave Afghanistan, or say we weren’t leaving and commit another tens of thousands more troops going back to war.

That was the choice — the real choice — between leaving or escalating.- Biden expressed.

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