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By Jeff Mason and Steve Holland WASHINGTON (Reuters) –President Joe Biden on Tuesday defiantly rejected criticism of his decision to stick to a deadline to pull out of Afghanistan this week, a move that left up to 200 Americans in the country along with thousands of U.S.-aligned Afghan citizens.

In a televised address, Biden offered a sweeping defense of his handling of the Afghanistan withdrawal, saying he inherited an unstable situation from his predecessor, Republican Donald Trump, and that the 20-year war “should have ended long ago.”

“I was not going to extend this forever war, and I was not extending a forever exit,” he said, his voice rising with emotion as he spoke.

Biden’s handling of the withdrawal has drawn sharp criticism from Republicans and his own Democrats as well as foreign allies punctured his job approval ratings and raised questions about his judgment.

The fate of Americans and Afghans who were not able to get on the last U.S. flights out of Kabul airport this week after the Taliban took over the capital remains a top concern.

U.S. officials believe 100 to 200 Americans remain in Afghanistan “with some intention to leave,” Biden said. He said most of those who remained were dual citizens and long-time residents who earlier had decided to stay, and added the United States was determined to get them out if they wanted to go… Read More

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