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Ban calls awarding of Nobel Peace Prize to US President Obama 'very wise'

9 October 2009 – United Nations leaders today warmly praised the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to President Barack Obama, with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon saying the United States leader’s commitment to work through the world body “gives the world's people fresh hope and fresh prospects.”

“This is great news for President Obama, for the people of the United States, and for the United Nations,” he told reporters, calling it “a very wise decision,” and describing the President’s support for the world body as “a great source of encouragement.”

Mr. Ban added: “We are entering an era of renewed multilateralism, a new era where the challenges facing humankind demand global common cause and uncommon global effort. President Obama embodies the new spirit of dialogue and engagement on the world's biggest problems: climate change, nuclear disarmament and a wide range of peace and security challenges.”

The UN applauds him and the Nobel committee for its choice, the Secretary-General said, noting that he looks forward to deepening the US-UN partnership “as a key building block to a better and safer world for all.”

Asked about comments from some that the award was premature, and that while Mr. Obama has perhaps changed the tone of US relations with the rest of the world, he has not yet achieved any of his the goals, Mr. Ban replied: “I wholeheartedly support it. As I said, the Nobel Committee has made a very wise decision.”

He said that from day one after his election, Mr. Obama had shown extremely strong support for the UN in addressing all global challenges, including climate change, poverty and food security issues.

“That has given me a great source of encouragement,” he added. “His own participation in the Climate Change Summit meeting [at UN Headquarters last month], as well as the [General Assembly’s] General Debate, has also given great hope, [in a] renewed multilateralism.”

The head of the Vienna-based UN nuclear watchdog agency said he could not think of anyone more deserving of the honour. Mr. Obama’s work on nuclear disarmament was cited by the Nobel Committee.

“In less than a year in office, he has transformed the way we look at ourselves and the world we live in and rekindled hope for a world at peace with itself,” International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Mohamed ElBaradei said in a statement.

“President Obama has provided outstanding leadership on moving towards a world free of nuclear weapons. He has shown an unshakeable commitment to diplomacy, mutual respect and dialogue as the best means of resolving conflicts. He has reached out across divides and made clear that he sees the world as one human family, regardless of religion, race or ethnicity.

“President Obama has brought a new vision of a world based on human decency, fairness and freedom which is an inspiration to us all,” he concluded.

General Assembly President Ali Treki, a former Libyan foreign minister, commended the Nobel Committee for recognizing Mr. Obama as a champion for peace, multilateralism and dialogue among all civilizations.

“Awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to the president of a Member State of the United Nations General Assembly will encourage global efforts that President Obama is firmly committed to in addressing today’s and tomorrow’s challenges, whether on international peace and security, climate change, nuclear disarmament, development and human rights,” he said in a statement.

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