President Biden said on Friday that U.S. troops would continue the ‘worthy’ mission to evacuate American nationals and Afghan allies despite losing 13 service personnel in a suicide bombing a day earlier.
He paid tribute to the lives lost as he welcomed Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to the White House for their first meeting.
‘Let me begin by once again acknowledging the bravery and the sacrifice that our military makes every single day.
‘The loss of those Americans, Marines and sailor and army personnel, is tragic.’ he said in the Oval Office.
‘Losing a son or daughter is like being sucked into a black hole.’
Biden has promised to hunt down the terrorists of ISIS-K who planned the attack at Kabul airport and the Pentagon said troops remained on alert for further bombings.
The White House is under intense pressure to defend its handling of the rapid withdrawal, which is due to finish on Tuesday. But Biden made clear he would not be taking reporters’ questions.
He said he had been briefed this morning on Thursday’s attacks and measures being taken to keep troops safe.
‘The mission that’s being performed is dangerous and now comes with significant loss of American personnel, but it’s a worthy mission,’ he said, adding that 12,000 people had flown out of Kabul airport in the past 24 hours.
President Biden said 12000 more people had been rescued from Kabul in the past 24 hours as he promised the U.S. would continue its ‘worthy mission’ despite Thursday bombing
Biden welcomed the new Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to the White House for their first meeting on Friday. Their talks were expected to focus on the threat posed by Iran
He moved on to welcoming Bennett and drew a line under the crisis engulfing his administration.
‘I’m not going to take any questions – because of the prime minister being here – on Afghanistan now,’ he said.
For his part, Bennett said Israel stood with the U.S.
‘I want to extend our condolences for the loss of Americans service members in Kabul,’ he said.
Their meeting was scheduled for Thursday but had to be postponed as Biden huddled with his national security to draw up a response to the double suicide bombing at Kabul airport that killed 13 U.S. troops.
Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the president had been briefed by commanders on Friday morning about their plans to attack ISIS-K.
‘The next few days of this mission will be the most dangerous period to date,’ she said.
‘The president reaffirmed with the commanders his approval of all authorities they need to conduct the operation and protect our troops, and all reported back that they have the resources they believe they need to do so effectively.’
Before the bloodshed upended the schedule, Bennet made clear he would use the visit to steer Biden away from any return to the Iran deal.
He told his cabinet that he would deliver a clear message.
‘This is the time to stop the Iranians, not to give them a lifeline in the form of re-entering an expired nuclear deal,’ he told ministers before leaving for Washington.
Some analysts believe it would take Iran two to three years just to produce a viable warhead, assuming they were able to work on it without outside interference (pictured: Iranian nuclear centrifuges)
‘Iran is only two months away from acquiring the materials necessary for a nuclear weapon,’ Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz told ambassadors on Wednesday
Bennett met Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Wednesday for talks that focused on Middle East security.
‘Prime Minister Bennett stressed that alongside the strategic alliance between the US and Israel, Israel will continue to insist on its right to maintain military supremacy in the Middle East and would continue to do everything necessary in this regard,’ said his spokesman after the talks.
In the run up to Friday’s meeting, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz delivered a warning to ambassadors in Tel Aviv.
‘Iran is only two months away from acquiring the materials necessary for a nuclear weapon,’ he said on Wednesday.
The 2015 deal retains the backing of Europe, but it was unpicked by President Donald Trump in 2018, who said Tehran’s backing of terror groups and development of missiles meant it breached the spirit of the agreement.
Since then Iran has stepped up enrichment of uranium, far beyond the limits set by the deal.
The Biden administration has tried to revive the deal but talks in Vienna ended without agreement in June.