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White House plans to move away from Afghanistan clearly after chaotic pullout

US President Joe Biden delivers remarks on ending the war in Afghanistan from the White House on August 31. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

President Biden’s forceful speech on Afghanistan was intentional. It was the same with the length of the speech. The same goes for the clear and calculated effort to retreat from the chaos of the previous 17 days and focus on Biden’s broader foreign policy goals.

Biden’s remarks served to punctuate the end of two decades of war and to underline a decision Biden never deviated from.

But it was also a clear, albeit implicit, signal that the White House would focus publicly on national challenges ahead in the days to come, according to several administration officials.

The administration is closely monitoring the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, where Biden has deployed federal resources in recent days. Biden is expected to visit the Gulf Coast at some point in the coming days, officials said, once it becomes clear that his presence will not interfere with relief efforts.

The battle against the wave of the Covid-19 Delta variant still looms inside the White House as the biggest challenge facing the administration, especially as millions of children return to school .

Officials also said Biden plans to focus again on selling his $ 4 trillion national legislative program as it enters its most critical phase on Capitol Hill in the coming days.

Biden and his senior advisers viewed the day after the last US military plane lifted off from Hamid Karzai Airport as a time for Biden to step away from the chaotic and bloody evacuation litigation.

There would be no recognition of failures or mistakes. Instead, it would serve as the most detailed encapsulation of Biden’s larger foreign policy vision that he delivered in months.

They targeted the intentionally longer and broader remarks on a majority of the country that has long been in favor of withdrawal from the war.

The speech was, as one official described it, a “clear reminder to the public of the big picture” – one Biden intensely believes he has broad support inside the country.

Yet officials recognize that there are still significant challenges ahead.

Diplomatic talks on securing passage out of the country for the more than 100 U.S. citizens who wish to leave and stay have come to no conclusion. U.S. officials are still trying to get clear assurances that Afghan allies can also leave – a possibility that has sparked significant skepticism and concern on both sides on Capitol Hill.

Among the Americans who remain in the country, sources say they represent the most complex cases that US authorities have sought to deal with in recent days. Most had dual citizenship, often long-time residents of Afghanistan, who were reluctant to leave until the last moments for fear of leaving their extended families.

Following the terrorist attack at Kabul airport that killed 13 U.S. servicemen and dozens of Afghans, other U.S. citizens chose to stop their efforts to leave out of fear, sources said.

Officials describe efforts to ensure safe passage for these citizens as “intensive” as the diplomatic phase of the operation begins.

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