The U.S. will end its military presence in Afghanistan later this year, President Joe Biden announced on Wednesday afternoon ― concluding a two-decade conflict.
“I am now the fourth United States president to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan. Two Republicans. Two Democrats,” Biden said in a prepared speech delivered from the White House Treaty Room — the same place where President George W. Bush announced the beginning of the war in 2001.
“I will not pass this responsibility onto a fifth,” he added.
Biden pledged to remove troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11 ― after the May 1 deadline set by former President Donald Trump. There are currently about 3,500 American troops serving there.
After his speech, Biden was scheduled to visit Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery, where many veterans of the Afghanistan War were laid to rest.
More than 2,000 American military personnel have died in Afghanistan since the beginning of the war, and many more have suffered injuries and trauma. Some of those veterans have lobbied for an end to the war.
“Most of us haven’t dealt with it, and one partial reason for that is that we’re still there,” former Army intelligence analyst Esti Lamonaca told HuffPost earlier this year. “For a lot of us, it would help knowing there’s not other people suffering.”
But some experts have warned that an abrupt U.S. departure from the country could be damaging.
Biden said that the U.S. will continue diplomatic and humanitarian work in Afghanistan, including by supporting its government and the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces. In addition, the U.S. will support peace talks facilitated by the United Nations between the Afghanistan government and the Taliban, Biden said.
But the past does not justify further U.S. presence in Afghanistan, according to the president.
“It is time to end the forever war,” Biden said. “It is time for American troops to come home.”
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