Ex-U.S. President Bush says U.S. must quickly aid Afghan refugees

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Aug 17 (Reuters) - Former U.S. President George W. Bush, who launched a "war on terror" in Afghanistan and elsewhere following the Sept. 11, 2001attacks, urged the U.S. government to expedite help for Afghan refugees following the Taliban's swift takeover in recent days.

"The United States government has the legal authority to cut the red tape for refugees during urgent humanitarian crises. And we have the responsibility and the resources to secure safe passage for them now, without bureaucratic delay," Bush and former first lady Laura Bush said in a statement late on Monday.

Former U.S. President George W. Bush speaks during the funeral of late U.S. Congressman John Lewis, a pioneer of the civil rights movement and long-time member of the U.S. House of Representatives who died July 17, at Ebeneezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. July 30, 2020. Alyssa Pointer/Pool via REUTERS.

The Bushes said they were "confident that the evacuation efforts will be effective" with help from U.S. forces, adding: "Our most stalwart allies, along with private NGOs, are ready to help."

While the couple said they felt "deep sadness" over the events unfolding in Afghanistan, they remained "steadfastly" optimistic that the nation's people were resilient, particularly younger Afghans who have grew up without the Taliban over the past two decades.

Under Bush, U.S. forces toppled the Taliban government in Kabul who had hosted al Qaeda militants responsible for the 2001 hijacked plane attacks in New York and Washington. But current and former officials have said Bush's separate focus on Iraq left Washington's Afghanistan strategy adrift. read more

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Reporting by Steve Holland in Washington; additional reporting by Bhargav Acharya in Bengaluru; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Chizu Nomiyama

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