Afghanistan: Joe Biden says it was ‘time to end this war’ - what US president said in his speech

Despite the collapse of the Afghan security focus days into the Taliban’s takeover of the country, Biden said the US was prepared for that scenario

President Joe Biden has defended the much criticised US withdrawal from Afghanistan - a day after the last US troops left Afghan soil.

Since 15 August, the day the Afghanistan capital, Kabul, fell to the Taliban, a US-led military operation was launched to evacuate more than 120,000 people.

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President Biden added "only the US had the capacity and the will and ability" to achieve success with the evacuation, and added that the war in Afghanistan “is now over”.

At a glance: 5 key points

  • President Joe Biden has defended his decision to pull out US troops from Afghanistan, accepting personal responsibility for the withdrawal, adding that he believed that staying longer wasn’t an option. 
  • Despite the collapse of the Afghan security focus days into the Taliban’s takeover of the country, Biden said the US was prepared for that scenario.
  • The president promised to evacuate Americans left in the country "if they so choose". And to local Afghans who wish to leave, he said, "we are far from done"
  • Responding to criticism that evacuations out of Afghanistan should have taken sooner, Biden said there still would have been a “rush to the airport” if that call was made. 
  • Biden said that he does not believe “the safety and security of America is enhanced by deploying thousands of troops and spending billions in Afghanistan,” explaining the US strategy has to change and doesn’t require troops on the ground. 

What’s been said?

Speaking at a White House news conference this evening, Mr Biden said his 31 August deadline was not "arbitrary" and was "designed to save lives".

He added that for Americans left behind "there is no deadline" and he "remains committed to getting them out if they want to get out".

"The bottom line is that 90% of those who wanted to leave were able to leave," he said.

He said America had "succeeded in what we set out to do in Afghanistan more than a decade ago and we stayed for another decade".

Biden issued a warning to ISIS-K, the terror group behind the suicide bombing at Kabul airport which claimed the lives of 169 Afghans, 13 US military personnel and two Britons, saying: "We are not done with you yet."

He added: "To those who wish America harm, know this. The US will never rest. We will never rest. We will hunt you down to the ends of the Earth and you will pay the ultimate price."