Biden says US troops may stay in Afghanistan beyond 31 August
Joe Biden has said US troops may stay past a 31 August deadline so as to evacuate all Americans from Afghanistan, and defended the withdrawal, saying there was no way for the US to pull out "without chaos ensuing".
As critics in the US and abroad questioned his handling of the withdrawal, the president said in his first on-camera interview since the Taliban took Kabul that troops would stay in the country to get American citizens out.
"If there's American citizens left, we're going to stay until we get them all out," Biden told ABC News, implying that he would listen to US lawmakers who had pressed him to extend the 31 August deadline he had set for a final pullout.
Asked if he thought the handling of the crisis could have gone better, Biden said: "No." "We're gonna go back in hindsight and look … but the idea that somehow, there's a way to have gotten out without chaos ensuing, I don't know how that happens," he told ABC's George Stephan-opoulos. The sentiment contradicts what Biden had said weeks back, when he insisted that it was "highly unlikely" that the Taliban would be "over running everything and owning the whole country".
It has also emerged that classified intelligence documents from the past few weeks gave multiple warnings to the Biden administration of the prospect of an imminent Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and the likely rapid collapse of Afghan troops, with Kabul portrayed as highly vulnerable.
It raises questions as to why the US administration was not better prepared for security and evacuations in the event the Taliban took control.