US has put Qaeda on its heels: Obama

Boston: US President Barack Obama on Thursday said that America has put al Qaeda "on its heels" and the country will no longer be threatened by Osama bin Laden, thanks to the bravery of its men and women in uniform.

"We are taking the fight directly to al Qaeda. And because of the bravery of our men and women in uniform, Osama bin Laden will never again threaten the United States of America," Obama said at a fundraiser here.

Appearing at two fundraisers in the city, Obama said while "we have put al Qaeda on its heels," there are still "enormous challenges" for the country`s security.

Noting that US has removed 100,000 troops from Iraq and ended its combat mission there, Obama said starting in two months, the US will be "transitioning our troops out of Afghanistan".

Referring to the situation in the Middle East, the President said America has a "huge stake" in making sure that countries like Egypt are successful in their transition to democracy.

He however, added that, "we have not made the kind of progress that we need to make on peace between Israelis and Palestinians".

Setting the stage for the 2012 elections, Obama said going forward the country has to work on a whole range of challenges.

"We`re going to have to confront the challenge of immigration. We`ve got to pass comprehensive immigration reform that upholds our tradition as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants," he said.

He further added that the need of the hour is "real energy reform" that grows the economy and frees the country from the grip of foreign oil.

He said in response to the difficult economic times, his administration had to "take some tough decisions that were not always popular".

While there has been progress in rebuilding the economy, that should not make the country complacent.

"It should remind us that change is possible. Change is hard. Change takes time," Obama said, adding, in the next few years, America has to make sure that the new jobs and industries are created in the US.

"We`ve got to make sure that America is built to compete in the 21st century — not just building new roads and new bridges, but high-speed rail and high-speed Internet and a smart grid," he added.

He however noted that he will not sacrifice investments in education or the safety of highways or airports as an answer to reducing the country`s deficit.

"Our sacrifice has to be shared. And that means ending tax cuts for the wealthiest two per cent of Americans in this country. This is the big thing for Republicans, just making sure that millionaires and billionaires keep their tax cuts.

That`s their main economic prescription. And I just want to make clear to them it?s not because I want to punish success that I think we have to roll these tax cuts back".

In a lighter vein, Obama said among the few things that have changed since his election win in 2008 is that "I`m a little bit grayer and older. I got a few dings and dents".