August 17, Tuesday, 2021 (1:30 p.m.) Newsline

1. U.S. President Joe Biden has defended his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan in his first speech after the effective collapse of the Afghan government. Biden said the only vital national interest of the U.S. in the country has been preventing a terrorist attack on the American homeland, and that remains so today. He said, “American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves.”
2. The Taliban in Afghanistan have stressed that they will protect people’s lives and property, apparently to ease concerns over the possible return to Islamic rule.
3. Japan has officially inaugurated its team of athletes for the Tokyo Paralympics, scheduled to open on August 24. A record 255 athletes will represent Japan at the Tokyo Games. But due to coronavirus restrictions, the number of attendees at the ceremony was limited, with most participating remotely.