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‘It is time to end America’s longest war’: Biden speech to announce Afghanistan troop withdrawal

Alex Woodward
·3-min read
 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

President Joe Biden is set to announce “it is time” for US troops to return from Afghanistan following a 20-year presence in the country and protracted efforts to withdraw American service members.

The president is expected to withdraw all US troops by 11 September, ahead of the 20th anniversary of the terror attacks.

“We cannot continue the cycle of extending or expanding our military presence in Afghanistan hoping to create the ideal conditions for our withdrawal, expecting a different result,” he will say on Wednesday, according to excerpts of prepared remarks shared with reporters.

“I am now the fourth American president to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan. Two Republicans. Two Democrats,” he will say, according to his remarks. “I will not pass this responsibility to a fifth.”

He adds that it is “time to end America’s longest war” and “time for American troops to come home”.

He also will stress the nation’s diplomatic and humanitarian work will continue, as well as its support for Afghanistan’s government and Afghan National Defense and Security Forces. The US and its allies are “training and equipping nearly 300,000 personnel” to continue “to fight valiantly on behalf of their country and defend the Afghan people, at great cost”, Mr Biden is expected to say.

The US also will support peace talks between Afghanistan and the Taliban through the United Nations.

“We went to Afghanistan because of a horrific attack that happened 20 years ago,” Mr Biden will say. “That cannot explain why we should remain there in 2021. ... Rather than return to war with the Taliban, we have to focus on the challenges that will determine our standing and reach today and into the years to come.”

The number of US troops in Afghanistan has fluctuated from roughly 2,500 to 3,500. There are also as many as 7,000 other forces in the country, most of them through Nato.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Tuesday that Mr Biden “has been consistent in his view that there is not a military solution to Afghanistan, that we have been there for far too long.”

“He remains committed to supporting negotiations between the parties,” she said. “He also believes we need to focus our resources on fighting the threats we face today, almost 20 years, after the war began.”

Donald Trump’s administration established a 1 May deadline for withdrawal in negotiations with the Taliban.

During his first formal press conference as president. Mr Biden said “tactical” reasons prohibit the US from fully withdrawing US troops by that date, though he did not expect any troops to remain in Afghanistan in 2022.

The now-firm September deadline will punctuate a two-decade that killed more than 2,200 American troops, wounded 20,000 others, and cost as much as $1 trillion.

More than 93,000 civilians, including women and children, have been killed or injured, according to an ongoing report from the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission.

Among those civilian casualties, 31,425 were killed and 62,067 were injured.

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