US President Barack Obama aims to revive economy, strengthen society

US President Barack Obama has laid out an ambitious bid to strengthen America at home by reigniting its economic engine, cutting gun murders and fixing immigration.

Focusing his State of the Union address squarely on domestic priorities, he said Washington must fix its gaping budget deficit

He also proposed raising the federal minimum wage to boost the amount to 9 US dollars an hour, up from 7.25 US dollars an hour

In addition, Mr Obama said he wanted a bill to reform the broken immigration system to give illegal immigrants a path to citizenship within months.

And he was at his most passionate when making a case to stem gun violence, following the killings of 20 kids at a Connecticut elementary school in December.

Mr Obama referred only in passing to foreign policy crises, including North Korea's new nuclear test and Iran's unsolved nuclear brinkmanship.

He vowed to take "firm action" against the "provocations" of North Korea after the communist state carried out its third nuclear test.

The US President also announced plans to withdraw more troops from Afghanistan as he delivered his fifth State of the Union address.

His announcement on the withdrawal of 34-thousand troops from Afghanistan, about half the force there, is a major development, even if it was highly anticipated.