President Joe Biden on Wednesday committed to keeping the United States military in Afghanistan until all American citizens who want to leave are out of the country.
Speaking to ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, Biden said the U.S. is committed to getting every American out of Afghanistan even if it means keeping troops on the ground beyond his Aug. 31 deadline.
Stephanopoulos pressed Biden on whether Americans should understand that troops might remain in Afghanistan beyond the end of the month. The President responded by saying the U.S. was “going to try to get it done before.”
“And if there are American citizens left, we’re going to stay until we get them all out,” Biden said.
Biden told ABC News there are between 10,000 to 15,000 Americans who need to be evacuated and between 50,000 and 65,000 Afghans and their families the U.S. also wants to evacuate.
However, the President stopped short of committing to evacuating all the Afghan allies beyond the August 31 deadline.
“The commitment holds to get everyone out that, in fact, we can get out and everyone who should come out. And that’s the objective. That’s what we’re doing now. That’s the path we’re on. And I think we’ll get there,” Biden said.
Biden added if the United States speeds up evacuation numbers to 5,000 or 7,000 a day, they would successfully meet his timeline.
The President’s comments went a step further than national security adviser Jake Sullivan, who said on Tuesday the agreement with the Taliban could go beyond the August 31 deadline. Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby also declined to comment when pressed if the administration would ignore the timeline.
“The mandate by the president is to complete this mission by the 31st of August, and that’s the target we’re shooting for,” Kirby said on Wednesday. “I won’t speculate about any possible different decisions going forward. That would have to be a decision made by the commander in chief.”
Biden’s interview comes as his administration has come under fire for the chaos in Afghanistan after the Taliban took control of the country in less than a week. On Monday, Biden said the Taliban’s control of Afghanistan was quicker than anyone anticipated.
The full interview with President Biden airs on Good Morning America Wednesday morning.