Obama says believes can get deal on fiscal cliff

WASHINGTON, Dec 21 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on

Friday urged lawmakers to reach agreement on averting tax hikes

on the middle class, saying he was ready and willing to do what

it takes to get a deal by Jan. 1.

Obama said he had spoken with Republican House Speaker John

Boehner and met with Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid about

the fiscal cliff. The president said he was an optimist and

believed a deal could be hammered out.

Obama had been expected to leave as early as Friday to spend

the Christmas holidays in Hawaii, but he gave no indications of

his travel plans except to tell reporters "see you next week."

(Reporting By Tabassum Zakaria and Matt Spetalnick)

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