U.S. President Joe Biden is set to address the nation Tuesday following the withdrawal of the last American troops from Afghanistan and the end of a two-decade war that leaves the Taliban in power.
Biden said in a brief statement Monday that he would specifically speak about his decision not to extend the U.S. troop presence in Kabul beyond the August 31 deadline he set.
For weeks, Biden and other members of his administration discussed the possibility of staying longer, balancing the challenges and benefits of a massive operation to evacuate U.S. citizens and Afghan civilians against credible security threats.
“It was the unanimous recommendation of the Joint Chiefs and of all of our commanders on the ground to end our airlift mission as planned,” Biden said. “Their view was that ending our military mission was the best way to protect the lives of our troops and secure the prospects of civilian departures for those who want to leave Afghanistan in the weeks and months ahead.”
“The Taliban has made commitments on safe passage and the world will hold them to their commitments,” he added.
Biden’s decision to stick to the withdrawal deadline drew criticism from political opponents, and from some allies. The U.S. exit comes days before the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks that prompted the United States to send troops into Afghanistan to go after the al-Qaida terrorists who planned the attacks and the Taliban militants who harbored them.
The head of U.S. Central Command announced the end of the U.S. mission to Afghanistan during a news conference Monday at the Pentagon, telling reporters the last U.S. aircraft took off in Kabul just before midnight local time.