President Joe Biden has announced that he will address the nation on Tuesday about the final US exit from Afghanistan after 20 years of war against the Taliban.
“Tomorrow afternoon, I will address the American people about my decision not to extend our presence in Afghanistan beyond 8/31,” he said in a statement shortly after the Pentagon announced that the last US military plane had flown out of Kabul.
The White House said Biden’s comments will be at 1:30 p.m. (1730 GMT).
Biden’s statement praised the military for carrying out the evacuation of the last American troops, diplomats and nearly all Americans, as well as tens of thousands of Afghan allies who worked for or fought alongside international forces in the war.
“Over the past 17 days, our forces have conducted the largest airlift in US history, evacuating more than 120,000 US civilians, citizens of our allies and Afghan allies of the United States,” Biden said.
“They did it with unparalleled courage, professionalism and determination. Now our 20-year military presence in Afghanistan has come to an end.”
An unspecified number of Americans – many of them, according to US officials, who are not nationals and have not asked to leave – remain in Afghanistan, as do a number of Afghans who wanted to leave but were unable to board US planes.
Biden reiterated assurances from US and international officials that the Taliban have agreed to allow those groups to continue to leave now that they have full control of Kabul, including the airport.
“The international community expects the Taliban to make progress, especially freedom of travel. The Taliban have made commitments to safe passage and the world will hold them to their obligations,” Biden said.
The US president said the goal was to reopen the airport, “allowing departure for those who want to leave and the delivery of humanitarian aid to the people of Afghanistan”.
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