Biden says it's up to Afghans to run their country as US leaves

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US President Joe Biden.
US President Joe Biden.
Mandel Ngan / AFP
  • The US military mission in Afghanistan will end on 31 August.
  • President Joe Biden said the US will continue to have diplomatic presence in the country.
  • The Pentagon says the withdrawal of US forces is 90% complete.


President Joe Biden on Thursday said it is up to the Afghan people alone how they run their country, as he announced the US military mission in Afghanistan will end on 31 August despite new concerns about the possibility of a civil war.

"We did not go to Afghanistan to nation-build," Biden said. "It's the right and the responsibility of the Afghan people alone to decide their future and how they want to run their country."

ALSO READ | Afghanistan could descend into civil war - UK military chief

Biden delivered his most extensive comments to date about the US withdrawal from Afghanistan under pressure from critics to give more explanation for his decision to withdraw.

Biden also said US plans to move thousands of Afghan interpreters out of the country in anticipation of the end of the US military mission in the country on 31 August.

The United States last weekend abandoned Bagram air base, the long time staging ground for US military operations in the country, effectively ending America's longest war. The Pentagon says the withdrawal of US forces is 90% complete.

Washington agreed to withdraw in a deal negotiated last year under Biden's Republican predecessor, Donald Trump. Biden overruled military leaders who wanted to keep a larger presence to assist Afghan security forces and prevent Afghanistan from becoming a staging ground for extremist groups.

Instead, the United States plans to leave 650 troops in Afghanistan to provide security for the US Embassy.

Biden's order in April to pull out US forces by 11 September after 20 years of conflict has coincided with major gains by the Islamist militant Taliban movement against overwhelmed Afghan forces after peace talks sputtered.

The commander of US troops in Afghanistan, General Austin Miller, warned last week that the country may be headed toward a civil war.

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