U.S. President George W. Bush on Friday hailed the execution of the toppled Iraqi President Saddam Hussein as "an important milestone" on the road to building an Iraqi democracy.
"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," Bush said in a statement issued just about one hour after Saddam was hanged in Baghdad, Iraq.
Bush, who is on vacation in Crawford, Texas, said that the death of the former Iraqi president would not end deadly violence in the war-torn country.
Earlier in the day in Crawford, White House Deputy Press Secretary Scott Stanzel told reporters that the execution of Saddam was a matter for the sovereign Iraqi government.
Hours before the execution of Saddam Hussein, U.S. Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman said that U.S. forces in Iraq are ready for any escalation of violence threatened by supporters of Saddam.
"U.S. forces in Iraq are obviously at a high state of alert anytime because of the environment that they operate in and because of the current security situation," Whitman said.
Saddam Hussein was hanged on Saturday morning along with after he was handed over to the Iraqi authorities for execution.
Saddam, born on April 28, 1937, was deposed by the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
On Nov. 5, a panel of five Iraqi judges sentenced Saddam, his half-brother Barzan al-Tikriti and Iraq's former chief judge Awad Hamed al-Bandar to death by hanging for killing of 148 people in Dujail, some 60 km north of Baghdad.