'We will get you home,' Biden tells stranded US citizens in Afghanistan

Biden calls current operation in Kabul 'one of the largest, most difficult airlifts in history'

US President Joe Biden on Friday reiterated his pledge to bring all US citizens and vulnerable Afghans out of the country as quickly as possible, promising stranded Americans “we will get you home” as he attempts to limit the fallout from the chaos of recent days.

Speaking from the White House, Mr Biden called current US military evacuation efforts “one of the largest, most difficult airlifts in history".

But “I cannot promise what the final outcome will be," he added.

US forces have flown 13,000 people out of Afghanistan since August 14 and 18,000 since July, the president noted, with thousands more taken out on private charter flights “facilitated by the US government".

Mr Biden said US forces are in “constant contact with the Taliban”, who have promised not to block access to the airport for US citizens and permanent residents.

The president is facing a firestorm of criticism for his handling of America's withdrawal from Afghanistan, where scenes of desperation at Kabul's airport have shocked the world and dealt his administration a seemingly self-inflicted blow to its credibility.

Mr Biden took questions from the press for the first time since the Taliban seized Kabul on Sunday.

He was pressed on America’s ability to keep terrorism in check while the Taliban controlled Afghanistan and was also asked why he had disregarded a “dissent cable” from the State Department highlighting the Taliban’s potential to take the country faster than expected.

“I made the decision. The buck stops with me,” the president said, repeating comments from earlier in the week.

Agencies contributed to this report

Updated: August 20th 2021, 8:10 PM
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