October 9, 2009

Surprise! Obama Awarded Nobel Peace Prize

The Nobel Peace Prize awarded to US President Barack Obama on Friday came out of the blue, taking many by surprise.

Was it too early for President Obama, who is just nine months in office, to receive this award? That was the question raised.

Obama, 48, took office on Jan 20 this year.

The Nobel Committee's chairman, Thorbjorn Jagland, said:

“We are not awarding the prize for what may happen in the future but for what he has done in the previous year.

"We would hope this will enhance what he is trying to do.

“Obama has, as president, created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play.”

According to reports by Reuters, it was a surprised world that greeted the award, with a mixture of praise and scepticism.

Obama and his administration are grappling with global crises - from the Middle East to Iran to southwest Asia, while American military forces are still deployed in large numbers in Iraq. The White House is also considering whether to increase troop levels in Afghanistan.

"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 Nobel jury said in making the stunning announcement.

Obama is the third US president to win the coveted award while in office. Theodore Roosevelt won it 1906 and Woodrow Wilson was awarded the prize in 1919. Jimmy Carter won the award in 2002, 20 years after he left office.

Former US Vice President Al Gore won it in 2007 along with the United Nations climate panel.

Last year, the prize was won by the former president of Finland, Martti Ahtisaari for peace efforts in Africa and the Balkans.

The prestigious Nobel Prize is worth the equivalent of US$1.4 million and is to be awarded to Obama in Oslo on Dec 10.

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