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Obama: Surprised, Humbled by Nobel Peace Prize Win

By VOA News
09 October 2009

U.S. President Barack Obama, in office less than a year, says he is accepting the Nobel Peace Prize as a "call to action."

The president told reporters at the early morning news conference Friday, he was suprised by the award.

The president said he does not "view it as a recognition" of his own accomplishments, but rather as a recognition of goals he has set for the United States and the world.

He said he does not feel that he deserves to be in the company of the many transformative figures who have been honored by this prize.

The comments came hours after the unexpected announcement in Oslo. Nobel Committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland praised Mr. Obama for what the committee called "his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples."

Jagland said the committee attached special importance to his "vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons."

The announcement was greeted with gasps of surprise from the audience.

The decision has been well-received by many Nobel laureates and world leaders. But others have said Mr. Obama has yet to make significant contributions to the international stage.

The Nobel committee chairman said that under Mr. Obama's leadership "dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts."

Jagland said "only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Mr. Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future."

He said the committee had recognized the U.S. president's "more constructive role" in meeting the "great climatic challenges the world is confronting."

The peace prize comes at a time when the United States is involved in two wars -- in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The prize is worth almost one and a half million dollars and will be awarded in a ceremony in Oslo on December 10.

Mr. Obama, who was inaugurated in January, is the first African-American president of the United States.

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