Obama 'extraordinarily relieved' over journalists' return

President Obama expressed relief Wednesday over the release of two American journalists from North Korea after the two arrived safely back in the U.S.

Obama thanked former President Bill Clinton, who traveled as a humanitarian envoy to North Korea to secure the release of the journalists, for his work to secure the safe return of Laura Ling and Euna Lee.

"We are obviously extraordinarily relieved," Obama said of Ling and Lee's return. "The reunion that we've all seen on television I think is a source of happiness not only for the families but for the entire country."

Ling and Lee were arrested and convicted of illegally crossing the border into North Korea while filming a documentary for former Vice President Al Gore's Current TV.

"I want to thank President Bill Clinton -- I had a chance to talk to him -- for the extraordinary humanitarian effort that resulted in the release of the two journalists," Obama said.

"I think that not only is this White House obviously extraordinarily happy, but all Americans should be grateful to both former President Clinton and Vice President Gore for their extraordinary work," the president added. "And my hope is, is that the families that have been reunited can enjoy the next several days and weeks, understanding that because of the efforts of President Clinton and Gore, they are able to be with each other once again."