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Obama is Nobel peacemaker
Ashish Kumar Sen writes from Washington

United States President Barack Obama was awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples."

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs woke Obama up with the news shortly before 6 am on Friday. An administration official said the president was "humbled" to have won the prize. However, the celebrations at the White House were subdued as the announcement comes at a time when Obama is weighing a plan to send more troops to Afghanistan. Critics slammed the choice as “premature”. Obama was nominated barely two weeks after taking office.

Obama said he was "both surprised and deeply humbled”. Speaking to reporters at the White House, the president said: "This is not how I expected to wake up this morning." He tried to downplay the recognition saying he did not feel he deserved to be in the company of past laureates.

"I don’t view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments but rather as an affirmation of American leadership," Obama said. "I’ll accept this award as a call to action."

He noted the Nobel prize had been awarded in the past to "give momentum to a set of causes" and the award for him was a reflection of the aspirations of the world.

The Republican Party was quick to criticise the award. The party’s national committee chairman Michael Steele said: "The real question Americans are asking is, 'What has President Obama actually accomplished?' It’s unfortunate the president's star power has outshined tireless advocates who have made real achievements working towards peace and human rights. One thing is certain — President Obama won't be receiving any awards from Americans for job creation, fiscal responsibility or backing up rhetoric with concrete action."

Democrats fired back in a statement from the party’s national committee chairman Tim Kaine. "The Nobel committee's decision to award this year's peace prize to President Obama is an affirmation of the fact that the United States has returned to its longstanding role as a world leader," he said.

The Norwegian Nobel committee applauded Obama's vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons. Announcing the prize, the committee said "Obama has as president created a new climate in international politics."

Delivering high praise for the United States' first black president, the committee said: "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. 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."

A record 205 people were nominated for this year's prize. Among them were favourites Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Chinese dissident Hu Jia. The winner, selected by a five-member committee, wins a gold medal, a diploma and 10 million Swedish kronor (US $1.4 million).

The Nobel committee said in Obama's brief time in office "multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations."

The committee said for 108 years the Norwegian Nobel committee has sought to stimulate "precisely that international policy and those attitudes for which Obama is now the world's leading spokesman."

Obama is the third sitting US president to win the Nobel Peace Prize. His predecessors — Woodrow Wilson, who was awarded the prize in 1919, after helping to found the League of Nations and shaping the Treaty of Versailles; and Theodore Roosevelt, who was honoured in 1906 for his work to negotiate an end to the Russo-Japanese war — won the prize in their second terms in office.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said the award for Obama confirmed "America's return to the hearts of the people of the world."

The prize-giving ceremony for the peace award is due to take place on December 10 in the Norwegian capital, Oslo.



He shouldn’t have got it, says survey

Chicago, October 9
Nobel Peace Prize to US President Barack Obama has come as a surprise to many. But even more surprising are the results of a poll conducted by the leading paper in his home-town in which a whopping 70 per cent felt he does not deserve it!

The Chicago Tribune ran a quick online poll asking readers to vote “Should President Obama have been awarded a Nobel Prize”.

According to the preliminary results as many as 71.3 per cent of the 1,370 respondents said “No”. Only 28.7 per cent have voted that Obama was the right pick for the coveted award. — PTI



Manmohan congratulates Obama
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 9
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today congratulated US President Barack Obama on being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009. Obama is to receive the award on December 10 this year.

In a letter to the US President, Manmohan Singh said, “I am delighted…. Please accept my heartiest congratulations.”

The citation for the Prize admirably reflects your personal qualities of leadership, the PM wrote to Obama while praising him for bringing in “… new perspectives … to relations between different countries and cultures and on some of the most burning issues of our times.”

Reminding about Indian ethos the Prime Minister said, “Peace and non-violence are part of India’s ethos. Your recent statement that the America of today has its roots in the India of Mahatma Gandhi … has a particularly evocative resonance in India.”

The Prime Minister said he looked forward to working with Obama to advance the goals of a more secure, equitable and just world.



Mahatma never got it

New Delhi, October 9
Mahatma Gandhi never won the Nobel Prize for Peace, but the apostle of truth and non-violence continues to inspire people around the globe who go on to win the coveted honour - US President Barack Obama being the latest among them. Obama had called Gandhi the “real hero of mine” last week. The committee that picks the winner has apologised for missing out in honouring Gandhi.

When Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama was awarded the peace prize in 1989, the committee chairman had said this was “in part a tribute to the memory of Mahatma Gandhi”.

Aung San Suu Kyi, the resistance leader from Myanmar who won the prize in 1991, as well as Nelson Mandela of South Africa who shared the 1993 prize with Frederik Willem de Klerk, were also inspired from Gandhi. On Friday, the Gandhian club among the Nobel laureates got one more member. — IANS



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