Published: Feb 11, 2011 10:02 PM EST
Updated: Feb 11, 2011 7:02 PM EST

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama made a rare appearance in the White House briefing room Friday to mark his longtime aide Robert Gibbs' last day at the White House.

Obama lauded Gibbs as an "extraordinary" press secretary and a great friend. He joked that Gibbs' departure was not the biggest of the day, a reference to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's resignation earlier Friday.

Gibbs said it was a privilege to serve as press secretary during the first two years of Obama's term. He is taking some time off and will be giving paid speeches before eventually joining Obama's 2012 reelection campaign full time.

 Gibbs has been one of Obama's closest advisers for several years, joining Obama's team during his 2004 Senate campaign.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)