On Friday, Mr. Biden, who had been back and forth from vacation spots at Camp David and Wilmington, Del., took questions for the first time since Afghanistan fell. He was asked about the international response to the U.S. withdrawal and how much military and intelligence officials knew ahead of time about the tenuous situation on the ground. He said he had not been criticized by an American ally for the withdrawal effort, but officials in Germany and Britain have publicly expressed alarm about how it was conducted.

“What interest do we have in Afghanistan at this point, with Al Qaeda gone?” Mr. Biden asked in response to a question about whether American allies had been critical of the withdrawal effort. “We went and did the mission. You’ve known my position for a long, long time.”

Mr. Biden’s claim that Al Qaeda has left the country conflicts with a report from the United Nations in June, which estimated that the terrorist group still had a presence in at least 15 provinces, while the Defense Department’s inspector general said in a report released on Wednesday that the Taliban continued to provide “safe haven” for Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

Scenes of chaos at the airport, which included a young infant being hoisted over a razor wire fence into the arms of American soldiers, have added to the scrutiny over Mr. Biden’s defense of his decision to pull troops out. Mr. Biden said the United States had “6,000 of America’s finest fighting men and women” working to restore order at the airport and get people out of the country.

Since 2002, the United States has employed Afghans to assist its troops,

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