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President Biden told ABC's George Stephanopoulos that he would have tried to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan even if former President Trump had not struck a deal with the Taliban to get out of the country by May 1.

Why it matters: Biden has sought to deflect blame on to the former president for the swift Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, saying that the peace deal Trump signed with the Taliban in 2020 set the stage for the subsequent withdrawal.

  • Under the terms of the deal, the Taliban agreed not to attack U.S. troops if the military withdrew by May 1.
  • "When I became President, I faced a choice — follow through on the deal, with a brief extension to get our forces and our allies’ forces out safely, or ramp up our presence and send more American troops to fight once again in another country’s civil conflict," Biden said in a statement last week, hours before Kabul fell to the Taliban.

Driving the news: ."I would have tried to figure out how to withdraw those troops, yes, because ... there is no good time to leave Afghanistan," Biden told Stephanopoulos when asked what he would have done if there was no peace deal.

  • "15 years ago would have been a problem, 15 years from now — the basic choice is, am I going to send your sons and your daughters to war in Afghanistan in perpetuity."
  • "No one can name for a time when this would end and what constitutes defeat of the Taliban," Biden said.

The big picture: Biden has long been a skeptic of the war in Afghanistan, insisting that the original mission was not to "nation-build" and that it's not realistic to protect human rights with military force.

  • Since Sunday, thousands of Afghans have fled their homes to escape the Taliban takeover, causing scenes of chaos at airports and on roads.
  • Biden has continued to defend the decision to withdraw, telling Stephanopoulos that there was no way to withdraw troops from Afghanistan "without chaos ensuing."

Go deeper: Biden officials say Trump left bare cupboard on Afghanistan

Go deeper

Oct 14, 2021 - World

Pakistan Airlines halts flights to Kabul citing "heavy-handedness" of Taliban

Passengers board a Pakistan International Airlines flight in Kabul on Sept 13. Photo: Aamir Qureshi/AFP via Getty Images

Pakistan International Airlines on Thursday halted flights to Kabul after what it called "heavy-handedness" of Taliban authorities, Reuters reports.

Driving the news: The suspension comes after the Taliban ordered PIA to slash ticket prices, warning that the company's Afghan operations could be blocked if it refused to do so, per Reuters.

Updated Oct 16, 2021 - World

Islamic State claims responsibility for deadly bombing in southern Afghanistan

The mosque after the explosion in southern Kandahar province on Oct. 15. Photo: Murteza Khaliqi/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for a massive blast that tore through a crowded Shiite mosque in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar on Friday, killing at least 47 people and injuring dozens more, AP reports.

Why it matters: Friday's attack was the deadliest to strike Afghanistan since the U.S. withdrew its troops from the region and is the second major attack on a Shiite mosque in a week, underscoring the Taliban's growing security threat from other militant groups.

U.S. elected to rejoin UN Human Rights Council after exit under Trump

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. has been elected to rejoin on the UN Human Rights Council, the State Department announced Thursday, three years after former President Trump walked out on the panel citing bias against Israel.

Flashback: The Biden administration announced in February it planned to rejoin the council, acknowledging what it called an "unacceptable bias against Israel," but arguing that being a member would help the U.S. advance its own interests.

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