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US President Joe Biden delivers remarks about the situation in Afghanistan in the East Room of the White House on August 16, 2021 in Washington, DC. Image Credit: AFP

Washington: President Joe Biden defended the US pullout of Afghanistan Monday, saying he stood by the policy and that it was time to leave after 20 years of conflict.

“I stand squarely behind my decision. After 20 years, I’ve learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw US forces,” he said in a televised address from the White House.

He added that the US national interest in Afghanistan was always principally about preventing terrorist attacks from the war-torn nation on the US homeland.

Image Credit: AFP

“The mission in Afghanistan was never supposed to be nation-building,” he said.

Biden acknowledged that the Afghan government collapsed more quickly than he expected.

“I always promised the American people that I will be straight with you. The truth is, this did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated,” Biden said in a national address.

Image Credit: AFP

“We gave them every chance to determine their own future. We could not provide them with the will to fight for that future.”

Biden promised to prioritize the treatment of women and girls under the Taliban in Afghanistan.

“We’ll continue to speak out on the basic rights of the Afghan people, of women and girls,” he said.

'Devastating force'

US President Joe Biden warned the Taliban Monday not to disrupt or threaten the evacuation of thousands of American diplomats and Afghan translators at the Kabul airport.

The response to any attack would be "swift and forceful," Biden said in a televised address from the White House.

"We will defend our people with devastating force if necessary," he said.