President Joe Biden said Wednesday the US would begin final withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan on May 1 and complete the exit in time for the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks.
“It’s time to end America’s longest war,” said Biden. “It is time for American troops to come home.”
Biden made his remarks in the treaty room – the same room from which President George W. Bush announced the start of the war in 2001.
There are approximately 3,500 US soldiers in Afghanistan.
Biden defended his decision, saying that al-Qaeda had been humiliated and Osama bin Laden was dead.
The US “cannot continue the cycle of expanding or expanding our military presence in Afghanistan in the hope of creating ideal conditions for withdrawal and expecting a different outcome,” Biden said.
Prior to Biden’s speech, William Burns, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, said there was “a significant risk” that al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups in Afghanistan would attempt to rebuild after the US and coalition military withdrew. The Wall Street Journal reported.
Burns told the Senate Intelligence Committee that U.S. intelligence will retain some skills and generate others to track and investigate the terrorist threat, the Journal said.
Biden said US diplomatic and humanitarian work in Afghanistan will continue, including supporting peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government and supporting the rights of Afghan women and girls.