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Biden brushes off early pullout from Afghanistan

AT News

KABUL: The US President Joe Biden has brushed aside speculations that US troops will withdraw ahead of the September deadline, saying the “pullout from Afghanistan continues but will not end in the next few days”.

Recently, some reports quoting US officials suggested withdrawal of US troops would end by July 4. But, Biden told a White House news conference on Friday that all US troops would leave Afghanistan by September 11.

“I wanted to make sure that there is enough time to complete the process by September,” he said.

Biden also tried to convince the Afghan government that the United States is not abandoning the country at a moment when there are portents of a government collapse to a resurgent Taliban.

Asked whether the troop withdrawal he ordered in April was nearly finished, Mr. Biden said that some troops would remain — mainly to secure the United States Embassy in Kabul — but that “we’re on track exactly where we expected to be” on the withdrawal.

About security implications of the pullout, Biden said, “The Afghans are going to have to be able to do it themselves with the Air Force they have.” He said he trusts Afghan leaders and that the Afghan government will survive.

Biden had met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani during his visit to the White House last week and reassured his country’s sustained support for Afghanistan despite the whirlwind withdrawal in the face of an advancing insurgency.

Pentagon officials said on Friday that a few hundred contractors would stay through August — a couple of months longer than expected — but after that they would troubleshoot maintenance issues from afar or bring aircraft out, as needed, for major repairs in Persian Gulf countries.

US decision to leave Afghanistan is as consequential for the beleaguered country as a 2001 military occupation that led to collapse of the Taliban regime. American leaders can’t wager the fate of our country on a flawed calculus that Afghan government can withhold an emboldening insurgency and regional rivalries being played out in the country.

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