US President Joe Biden has defended the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, saying he remains committed to the policy and that it is time for them to leave the country after 20 years of war.
“I am the president of the United States and it is my responsibility,” Biden said in a long-awaited speech at the White House, after days of silence on the situation in Afghanistan.
Biden said he was “deeply saddened” as the situation changed, and vowed to defend the rights of Afghan women, who now face the return of Taliban rule.
But he has been adamant that he does not regret withdrawing US troops, despite widespread criticism of the unrest in recent days.
“I fully support my decision. “After 20 years, I have learned hard that there is never a better time to withdraw US troops,” he said.
The US president has acknowledged that the Afghan government has collapsed more quickly than he expected – and suggested they have no intention of countering the Taliban.
“The truth is that they disintegrated faster than we expected,” he said.
“We have given them many opportunities to decide their future. But they could not give them the will to fight for their future. “
Biden finally issued a stern warning to the Taliban not to disturb or jeopardize the evacuation of thousands of US diplomats and their Afghan interpreters at Kabul airport.
“We will defend our people with strong force if needed,” Biden said.