Biden promises ‘any American who wants to come home, we will get you home’ amid Afghanistan evacuation crisis

joe biden holds his hands up in front of a a gold back drop and in front of a lectern with the presidential seal
President Joe Biden speaks at the White House on Wednesday.
  • Biden on Friday addressed the US effort to evacuate Americans, SIV applicants, and vulnerable Afghans.
  • "Any American who wants to come home, we will get you home," Biden said.
  • Biden said 5,700 people had been evacuated in the past 24 hours.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

President Joe Biden promised on Friday that the United States would get any Americans left in Afghanistan out of the country as the Taliban consolidated power.

"Any American who wants to come home, we will get you home," Biden said.

Biden, standing alongside Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, was delivering remarks about the crisis in Afghanistan.

"This is one of the largest, most difficult airlifts in history," Biden said, detailing his administration's efforts to evacuate American citizens, Afghan applicants for special immigrant visas, and other "vulnerable Afghans."

Biden also committed to helping Afghan citizens who assisted the US military during the 20-year war flee the country if they wished.

Biden said more than 18,000 people had been evacuated since July. About 13,000 people had been evacuated since Saturday, and 5,700 people were evacuated on Thursday alone, he said. He added that the US had almost 6,000 troops in Kabul.

But chaos has plagued efforts to escape. Footage has shown people in Kabul desperately trying to escape by clinging to US jets. One disturbing video showed some people falling from a plane to their deaths.

"We've seen gut-wrenching images of panicked people acting out of sheer desperation," Biden said.

Despite reports of Taliban beatings at checkpoints around the airport, Biden said that he had "no indication" that Americans were having trouble getting to the airport and that the US had a safe-passage agreement with the Taliban.

He made a distinction, though, between Taliban forces allowing American passport holders through checkpoints and the difficulties that Americans might face with crowds outside the airport.

The US's expanding beyond the Kabul airport would be "likely to draw an awful lot of unintended consequences," Biden said. A State Department spokesman, Ned Price, said on Thursday that the US lacked the capacity to go beyond the airport.

The president has faced mounting criticism over his handling of the evacuation effort. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said on Friday that Biden should be impeached should any Americans be left behind in Afghanistan.

"There will be plenty of time to criticize and second-guess when this operation is over," Biden said. "But now, now I'm focused on getting this job done."

Reports emerged on Friday that Qatar was no longer accepting more Afghans because of capacity limits and that the US was looking toward other countries such as Germany. Biden said evacuation flights had since resumed.

Biden reiterated that he did not believe the US had an interest in remaining in Afghanistan and that some degree of chaos may have been inevitable.

"There's no way in which we'd be able to leave Afghanistan without some of what you see now," he said.

Biden also said he would convene a meeting of the G7 next week to coordinate a "united approach on Afghanistan moving forward."

Biden sought to highlight the failures of Afghanistan's government, saying that the US hadn't anticipated the "total demise of the Afghan national force" and that the "overwhelming consensus" had been that it would not collapse.

The president was initially set to travel to Wilmington, Delaware, following his speech but will stay in Washington for the night.

Watch Biden's full remarks below:

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