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Afghanistan turmoil

Biden says allies are not questioning US credibility

G-7 leaders to meet next week to pressure Taliban, president announces

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on evacuation efforts and Afghanistan from the East Room of the White House on Aug. 20.   © Reuters

NEW YORK -- U.S. President Joe Biden closed a tumultuous week Friday with a second address to the nation on Afghanistan, stressing that allies were not questioning America's credibility, even after the failure to prevent an immediate takeover by the Taliban.

But this assertion came just two days after a heated session in the British House of Commons, where lawmakers on both sides of the aisle slammed Washington's handling of the drawdown with such words as "shameful," "ghastly" and "catastrophic."

Taking questions from the media for the first time since the collapse of the Afghan government, the president was asked: "What's your message to America's partners around the world who would criticize not the withdrawal, but the conduct of that withdrawal, and ... made them question America's credibility on the world stage?"

Biden replied: "I have seen no question of our credibility from our allies around the world."

Noting that Secretary of State Antony Blinken, national security adviser Jake Sullivan and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had been in contact with their counterparts throughout the world, the president insisted that allies saw the U.S. as committing to what it said it would do.

"The fact of the matter is, I have not seen that," he said of any credibility issues. "Matter of fact, the exact opposite."

In his opening remarks, Biden said he had spoken directly in the past few days with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron. The leaders agreed to convene a Group of Seven leaders summit next week to coordinate on evacuation, Biden said. Discussions have been held on ways to deliver humanitarian assistance to Afghan refugees who have crossed into neighboring countries, and to bring international pressure to bear on the Taliban over the treatment of women and girls.

In this photo provided by the U.K. Parliament, Labour Party leader Keir Starmer speaks on Aug. 18 as lawmakers attend an emergency sitting on Afghanistan.   © AP

But according to British newspaper The Telegraph, Johnson asked to call Biden on Monday morning but only managed to speak with him at 10 p.m. the day after.

In an editorial titled "How Biden Broke NATO," The Wall Street Journal called everything about Biden's Afghan withdrawal a "slap" to America's allies.

"They didn't want the U.S. to leave, but he did," the editorial said. "The botched execution has left them scrambling to airlift out thousands of their citizens and thousands more Afghan translators and others who assisted each nation's war effort."

"Mr. Biden's failure here, and it's a NATO-endangering one, is to offer stark proof that America's supposedly grown-up liberal internationalists are as much in global retreat as some Trump Republicans," the editorial later added.

At the House of Commons session, Johnson said: "The West could not continue this U.S.-led mission -- a mission conceived and executed in support and defense of America -- without American logistics, without U.S. air power and without American might," which The Telegraph described as "a clear swipe at Washington."

Khalid Mahmood, a Labour Party member of Parliament and former shadow defense minister, said: "The Biden government has just come in and, without looking at what's going on on the ground, has decided to take a unilateral decision, throwing us and everybody else to the fire."

Nile Gardiner, director of the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom at the Washington-based Heritage Foundation, said: "I cannot think of any U.S. president that has received this level of unanimous condemnation from Britain's Parliament in modern times," referring to the Parliamentary session.

"Joe Biden has dramatically undermined U.S. allies and America's standing in the world."

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