President George W. Bush said that Saddam Hussein's execution marks the "end of a difficult year for the Iraqi people and for our troops" and cautioned that his death will not halt the violence in Iraq.
Yet, Bush said in a statement issued late Friday from his ranch in Texas, "it is an important milestone on Iraq's course to becoming a democracy that can govern, sustain and defend itself, and be an ally in the war on terror."
In a message of assurance to the people of Iraq, Bush said the execution was a reminder of how far the Iraqi people have come since the end of Saddam's rule.
"The progress they have made would not have been possible without the continued service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform," he said.
Bush, who has spent weeks crafting a new U.S. policy in Iraq, warned of more challenges for US troops.
"Many difficult choices and further sacrifices lie ahead," he said. "Yet the safety and security of the American people require that we not relent in ensuring that Iraq's young democracy continues to progress."