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Biden says US has achieved objectives in Afghanistan, troop drawdown is 'on track'

President Joe Biden
Posted at 8:55 AM, Jul 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-08 14:54:00-04

President Joe Biden on Thursday defended his administration's decision to draw down troops from Afghanistan as pressure mounts on Afghani forces and the Taliban continues to gain ground.

"I will not send another generation of Americans to war in Afghanistan with no reasonable expectation of achieving a different outcome," Biden said Thursday.

Earlier this year, Biden set a target date of total withdrawal from Afghanistan by Sept. 11 — a date he said Thursday the military is on track to meet.

Speaking from the White House, Biden said he thought that it was "unlikely" that one unified government would ever control the entirety of Afghanistan and suggested that Afghan forces negotiate a peace treaty with the Taliban.

He added that the U.S.'s goal in Afghanistan was not to "nation-build," saying that the U.S. had accomplished its goal in the country by taking out Osama bin Laden and stopping terrorism from emanating from the region.

He also defended the speed with which forces have been withdrawn from the country, noting that military officials advised him to move quickly to keep American forces safe.

Recently-departed U.S. troops have faced criticism from the Afghanistani military, who say they were taken by surprise by the Americans' sudden departure. The complaints have drawn criticism from Republicans regarding Biden's handling of the withdrawal.

Biden also expressed faith in Afghani forces, noting that they are better equipped, better trained and outnumber those in the Taliban.

Biden's remarks also come as U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed that most British troops have left Afghanistan.

Johnson reflected Thursday on the gains made through Britain's contribution to the U.S.-led military intervention and said the threat posed by al-Qaida to the U.K. has substantially diminished. But he sidestepped questions about whether the military exodus of NATO allies leaves Afghanistan vulnerable to the Taliban.

Johnson says Britain remains committed to helping achieve a peace settlement in Afghanistan through diplomacy.

Most U.S. and European troops have already pulled out in recent weeks.