WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The ban on gays serving openly in the U.S. military will end in 60 days, President Barack Obama said on Friday after notifying Congress that all the requirements to repeal it have been met.

The armed forces are ready to set aside the 18-year-old "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that forced gay recruits to keep their sexual orientation secret, Obama said in a statement.

"As of September 20th, service members will no longer be forced to hide who they are in order to serve our country. Our military will no longer be deprived of the talents and skills of patriotic Americans just because they happen to be gay or lesbian," he said.

Obama signed a law allowing for the repeal last year, but needed Pentagon leaders to certify that military readiness would not suffer as a result. He said the Friday announcement followed "extensive training of our military personnel and certification by Secretary Panetta and Admiral Mullen that our military is ready for repeal," referring to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and chairman of the U.S. Military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen.

(Reporting by Laura MacInnis; editing by Mohammad Zargham)

Source: Reuters US Online Report Domestic News