Afghanistan: Joe Biden 'convinced' he is right on US military pullout - and says evacuations 'would have been hard no matter when we started'

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Joe Biden has defended the US military pullout in Afghanistan, saying that the mass evacuation of refugees would have been "hard and painful no matter when we started".

The US president said "my heart aches" for the thousands who are stranded outside Kabul airport in desperate scenes, but added that it was "just a fact" that the evacuation would have been difficult no matter how or when it was planned.

Tony Blair is among many who have criticised Mr Biden for the chaos seen in Kabul and across Afghanistan, with the former prime minister saying that the decision to withdraw troops was "imbecilic".

At a White House news conference, Mr Biden said he had a "basic decision to make" and was "convinced I'm correct in not sending more men and women to war".

He said: "If we do not leave Afghanistan now, when do we leave?"

Mr Biden added that he would not like to extend his deadline to stop evacuations from Kabul on 31 August, but that talks were ongoing over this.

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