'Any attack on our forces and...': Biden's warning to Taliban
US President Joe Biden said on Friday any attack by the Taliban on American forces or attempts to disrupt evacuation operations at the Kabul airport in Afghanistan will invite a "swift and forceful response". Biden also reiterated that his administration is keeping a "laser focus on the counterterrorism mission", along with close coordination with allies in the region. The US is also scanning for any potential terrorist threat at or around the airport, including from the Islamic State affiliates in Afghanistan.
"We made clear to the Taliban that any attack, any attack on our forces or disruption of our operations at the airport will be met with a swift and forceful response," Biden told reporters at a White House news conference. "I've said all along, we're going to retain a laser focus on our counterterrorism mission, working in close coordination with our allies and our partners and all those who have an interest in ensuring stability in the region."
Biden said that US secretary of state Anthony Blinken met with Nato allies on Friday to discuss strategies to prevent Afghanistan from being used as a base to launch a terror attack on America and its allies. For this purpose, the US president has spoken with his counterparts in Britain, Germany, and France over the past few days.
"We all agreed that we should convene, and we will convene the G7 meeting next week, a group of the world's leading democracies so that together we can coordinate our mutual approach, our united approach on Afghanistan moving forward," he said.
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Biden once again reiterated his defence behind the troop withdrawal in Afghanistan, claiming that the US finished its "mission" in the country after eliminating the al Qaeda outfits there.
"Look, let's put this thing in perspective here," the US president said. "What interest do we have in Afghanistan at this point with al Qaeda gone? We went to Afghanistan for the express purpose of getting rid of al Qaeda in Afghanistan as well as getting Osama bin Laden, and we did.”
"You've known my position for a long, long time," Biden continued. "It's time to end this war. The estimates of the cost of this war over the last 20 years range from a minimum of $1 trillion to a think tank at one of the universities saying $2 trillion. That somewhere between $150 million a day and $300 million a day."
(With inputs from agencies)