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Biden says U.S. will still ‘hold Taliban accountable’ after troops leave Afghanistan

President Joe Biden formally announced Wednesday that the United States would withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by September 11, 20 years since the fateful day that led to the U.S. invasion. More than 2,300 American soldiers have lost their lives in what's become the country's longest war. John Yang begins our coverage.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Today, President Biden formally announced the United States would withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan by September 11, 20 years exactly since the fateful day that led to the U.S. invasion.

    John Yang begins our coverage.

  • John Yang:

    After nearly 20 years of war, today, President Biden set the end date for the U.S. presence in Afghanistan.

  • Pres. Joe Biden:

    I have concluded it is time to end America's longest war. It is time for American troops to come home.

  • John Yang:

    He said the U.S. would still work to fight terrorist activity in the region and ensure the Taliban sticks to its commitments.

  • Joe Biden:

    But we'll not take our eye off the terrorist threat. We'll reorganize our counterterrorism capabilities and the substantial assets in the region to prevent reemergence of terrorists. We'll hold the Taliban accountable for its commitment not to allow any terrorists to threaten the United States or its allies from Afghan soil.

  • John Yang:

    The announcement was met with international endorsement. The secretaries of state and defense met with NATO allies in Brussels to brief them.

    Germany's defense minister said the alliance, which has been from since the start, would also likely withdraw its troops later this year.

  • Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (through translator):

    We have always said, we go in together, we go out together. I am in favor of an orderly withdrawal.

  • John Yang:

    Afghan President Ashraf Ghani tweeted his support after a phone call with the U.S. president, adding that: "Afghanistan's proud security and defense forces are fully capable of defending its people and country."

    In response, the Taliban threatened to boycott the peace process and resume attacks on foreign troops if the United States stays beyond its original deadline of May 1.

    While the Taliban continue attacks throughout the country, the new CIA director, William Burns, said today neither al-Qaida or ISIS in Afghanistan have the capacity to carry out heightened attacks.

  • William Burns:

    It is also clear that our ability to keep that threat in Afghanistan in check from either al-Qaida or ISIS in Afghanistan has benefited greatly from the presence of U.S. and coalition militaries on the ground.

  • John Yang:

    May 1 was the withdrawal date that the U.S. and the Taliban agreed on in February 2020, under President Trump, so long as the Taliban talked peace and prevented al-Qaida from having a safe haven in Afghanistan.

    Violence has been unrelenting. Nearly 2,000 Afghans were killed in the first three months of the year. Some war-weary Afghans still think U.S. troops are leaving with promises unfulfilled.

  • Mehruddin Wasiq (through translator):

    The Americans have not fulfilled their responsibility to Afghanistan. Their responsibility is to ensure a strong government, the rule of law, and democracy in Afghanistan.

  • John Yang:

    One issue of major concern, what happens to progress made for women and girls, who've flourished since escaping the Taliban's austere interpretation of Islam?

    But today on Capitol Hill, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer praised Biden's decision.

  • Sen. Chuck Schumer:

    It's time to bring our troops home. America does not need to fight forever wars.

  • John Yang:

    Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said it could lead to increased violence in Afghanistan.

  • Sen. Mitch McConnell:

    Apparently, we are to help our adversaries ring in the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks by gift-wrapping the country and handing it right back to them.

  • John Yang:

    Shortly after setting the schedule for ending America's longest war, President Biden visited Arlington National Cemetery's Section 60, the final resting place for many of the nation's dead from Afghanistan.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm John Yang.

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