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Barack Obama wins Nobel Peace prize

RIA Novosti

14:19 09/10/2009 MOSCOW, October 9 (RIA Novosti) - U.S. President Barack Obama was named winner of the Nobel Peace prize on Friday for his "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between peoples."

The laureate is awarded a gold medal, a diploma and 10 million Swedish kronor ($1.4m).

"Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future," the Norwegian Nobel Committee said.

"His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world's population."

The committee also said that Obama, who took office on January 20, 2009, "has as president created a new climate in international politics."

The prize will be awarded in Oslo on December 10.

Since taking office, Obama has promoted the idea of a nuclear-free world, entering into talks with Russia on a new nuclear disarmament treaty and pushing the concept last month when he became the first U.S. president to chair a session of the UN Security Council.

However, given U.S. involvement in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as cross-border drone attacks on targets in Pakistan that have resulted in civilian deaths, the choice is likely to prove a controversial one in some quarters.

Although Obama has vowed to withdraw all U.S. combat troops from Iraq and close the controversial Guantanamo Bay military prison, it is still unclear when those goals might be achieved.

Obama is the fourth U.S. president to receive the award, joining presidents Jimmy Carter, Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt. Carter won in 2002, while Wilson and Roosevelt were in their second terms when they received the award.

The five-member Norwegian Nobel Committee sprung a surprise in choosing the United States' first African-American president, who is nine months into his time in office.

Norwegian broadcaster NRK reported on Friday morning that the Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Colombian senator Piedad Cordoba and Chinese dissident Hu Jia were among the favorites.

The committee had to consider a record 205 nominations this year, however, and in choosing Obama early this week they may have been true to Alfred Nobel's 1895 will, in which he established the prizes and said the peace prize should go "to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations and the abolition or reduction of standing armies and the formation and spreading of peace congresses."

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