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WASHINGTON — Declaring significant progress in disrupting al-Qaeda and combatting the Taliban, President Barack Obama said Thursday the United States will start withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan in July as promised. He still warned of sobering days, saying the war will remain a “very difficult endeavor.”

Heralding a review of his war strategy at its one-year mark, Obama said the goal is not to defeat every threat to Afghanistan’s security or to build up the nation. Rather, he said, the United States continues to shed blood in the war – one now in its 10th year – to dismantle the al-Qaida network and push back the Taliban.

“We are on track to achieve our goals,” Obama said from the White House.

Yet he added that progress has not come fast enough in Pakistan, where terrorists continue to find safe haven.


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