Biden ducks questions about Afghanistan pullout, wants to talk about ‘happy things’

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President Biden bucked reporters’ questions about the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan on Friday, saying he wanted to talk about “happy things” instead as Independence Day approaches.

The president cited his concern with the negative tone of the questions coming from journalists.

“I want to talk about happy things, man,” Mr. Biden said at the White House before responding to the question. 

The rebuke, which followed Mr. Biden’s televised remarks on the positive June jobs report, came on the same day the U.S. military turned Bagram Airfield over to the Afghan National Security Defense Forces, marking a significant milestone in the troop drawdown.

“I’m not going to answer any more questions about Afghanistan,” Mr. Biden said to reporters. “Look, it’s Fourth of July.”

The president fielded one question from a reporter on whether he felt the military maintained the capability to support the Afghan Defense forces following the troop withdrawal.

He proceeded to tell the reporter that the U.S. maintains the capability to provide over-the-horizon support to the Afghan defense forces, “but that the Afghans are going to have to be able to do it themselves with the Air Force they have, which we’re helping to maintain.”

When pressed by other reporters on Afghanistan, Mr. Biden refused to answer.

“All across America, people are going to ball games and doing good things,” he said. He said he would answer questions on Afghanistan next week.

Mr. Biden announced the withdrawal in April, giving the Department of Defense a Sept. 11 deadline to remove all troops from the theater. The pullout, which is being matched by other countries fighting in Afghanistan, is now well over 50% complete, and some believe that the troops will be out of the country before the deadline.

Some intelligence estimates predict that the Taliban could gain control of the country within six months of the withdrawal.

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