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Biden Says He Doesn't Believe Taliban Has Changed

U.S. President Joe Biden

U.S. President Joe Biden says he doesn't believe the Taliban has changed and the militant group is now going through an "existential crisis" about whether it wants legitimacy on the global stage after seizing power in Afghanistan.

When asked in an ABC interview that aired on August 19 if he thought the Taliban had changed, Biden responded, "No."

"I think they're going through sort of an existential crisis about do they want to be recognized by the international community as being a legitimate government? I'm not sure they do," Biden said.

Western powers face the decision whether to deal with the Taliban they had fought for nearly 20 years after the militants seized control of Kabul on August 15, following a blitz offensive that saw a string of cities across the country fall to the fundamentalist group in quick succession, triggering fear that it will reimpose its brutal rule.

Taliban leaders have said they want peace and an inclusive government -- within the values of Islam. They also have vowed not to take revenge against opponents and to respect women's rights within the framework of Islamic law.

The president said that the threat from Al-Qaeda and their affiliate organizations is "greater in other parts of the world than it is in Afghanistan," adding that the world cannot ignore the "looming problems" posed by Al-Qaeda affiliates in Syria or East Africa, where he said the threat to the United States was "significantly greater."

Biden also pushed back against concerns about the treatment of women and girls in the country adding that military force is not the answer to the issue.

"The idea that we're able to deal with the rights of women around the world by military force is not rational," he said. "There are a lot of places where women are being subjugated. The way to deal with that is putting economic, diplomatic, and international pressure on them to change their behavior."

Under the hard-line version of Shari'a law that the Taliban imposed when they ruled Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001, women and girls were mostly denied education and employment.

Full face coverings became mandatory in public, and women could not leave home without a male companion.

On August 18, Biden said that U.S. forces could remain in Kabul beyond the August 31 deadline if necessary to evacuate all Americans.

With reporting by AFP, AP, and the BBC
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