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Obama's Year-End News Conference: What to Expect

FILE - President Barack Obama has a lot of ground to cover in end-of-the-year news conference, Dec. 19, 2014.

U.S. President Barack Obama will hold his annual end-of-year news conference Friday afternoon before heading to Hawaii for his winter vacation. And there is a lot to discuss.

The president, in a conference scheduled for 1:30 p.m. local time (6:30 GMT), is expected to field questions on a range of issues making headlines recently. Those include the dramatic shift in U.S. policy toward Cuba, the devastating cyberattack on Sony Pictures – which federal investigators reportedly have traced back to North Korea – and his controversial executive action on immigration.

Other issues expected to come up Friday include the fight against Islamic State militants, the Senate's scathing report on CIA interrogation methods and the end of U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan at the close of the year.

Reporters also may ask about the president's tense relationship with Republicans in Congress. Republicans will control both the House of Representatives and Senate when the new Congress convenes in January.

This is Obama's first White House news conference since November 5, the day after his Democratic Party’s defeat in congressional midterm elections.

On the domestic front, the president will likely address the economy, health care and nationwide protests against police treatment of African-Americans and other minorities.

With just two years of his second term left, Obama may also be asked to weigh in on the 2016 presidential race.

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