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President Barack Obama told war-weary Americans in a 15 minute address from the East Room of the White House that the United States had largely achieved it's goals in Afghanistan and that a withdrawal of American troops would be set in motion. He said Afghanistan no longer represented a terrorist threat to the United States and that the "tide of war is receding." He announced plans to withdraw 10,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year. The remaining 20,000 troops from the 2009 "surge" would leave by next summer. He added that the drawdown would continue "at a steady pace" until the US handed over security to the Afghan authorities in 2014. President Sarkozy, of France, said he would also begin drawing down the 4,000-strong French contingent in Afghanistan. In keeping with 5,000 years of Afghan history, President Hamid Karzai said, “Afghans would take responsibility for the preservation of their soil, the security of their people and educating their children by the end of 2014.” In this post, we offer more glimpses of the troops and the Afghan people as they coexist, for now. - Paula Nelson (45 photos total)
U.S. President Barack Obama is seen on live television screens in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House, June 22, 2011 in Washington, DC. Obama announced he will order 10,000 troops to pull out of Afghanistan this year and another 20,000 troops by the end of next summer. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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WATER FIGHT: Children attended a ceremony marking the opening of city pools Wednesday in Philadelphia. Thanks to a last-minute splash of private funds, city pools in Philadelphia opened this summer for overheated residents. (Matt Rourke/Associated Press)

ON PARADE: Around 220 soldiers in the the Second Battalion, the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment, marched through the city of Brighton, England, Wednesday after returning from Afghanistan. (Zuma Press)

DEADLY PROTEST: A man broke the windshield of a government bus after protesters set it on fire in Gauhati, India, Wednesday. Two people were killed in a protest against squatter evictions, as riot police fired tear gas and live rounds into the air to disperse the crowd of thousands. (Anupam Nath/Associated Press)

BOAT RIDE: People waited for a boat at the harbor in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Wednesday. (Ramon Espinosa/Associated Press)

SQUATTERS’ RIGHTS: An Indian policeman and an activist from the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti clashed during a demonstration in Gauhati, India, Wednesday. The protesters were demanding an end to the evictions of squatters from bamboo huts built into the hills around the city. (AFP/Getty Images)

FACING OFF: Pakistani Kushti wrestlers sparred during their daily training in Lahore, Pakistan, Wednesday. Kushti, an Indo-Pakistani form of wrestling, is a national sport in Pakistan. (Muhammed Muheisen/Associated Press)

FANCY FEAST: Lobsters were prepared to be grilled at the ‘Salon Prive’ car show Wednesday in London. The annual three-day Salon Prive offers the opportunity to view exotic modern and vintage cars. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE: Graduates of Huazhong University of Science and Technology attended their graduation ceremony in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, Wednesday. (Zuma Press)

CATCHING SOME RAYS: Canadian army soldiers sunbathed at Seprwan Ghar forward-fire base in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, Wednesday. Canada has about 2,800 soldiers in the volatile southern Afghan province on a combat mission that is due to end this year. (Baz Ratner/Reuters)

HOT STUFF: A girl carried a basket of chillies on her head after picking them from a field in Noida in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh Wednesday. (Parivartan Sharma/Reuters)

LOOKING BACK: School boys held torches in front of a Soviet World War II war monument early Wednesday during a ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of the Nazi invasion of the town of Brest, Belarus. (Sergei Grits/Associated Press)

MIGRANT WORKERS: An Indonesian migrant worker who was going to be sent to Saudi Arabia sat during an inspection by police after a raid at a shelter in Bekasi, Indonesia, Wednesday. About 10 pregnant and underage workers were found at a shelter operated by a migrant worker placement company. (Mast Irham/European Pressphoto Agency)

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