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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Obama receives Nobel Peace Prize

Barack Obama picks up Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo

Obama receives Nobel Peace Prize

December 10, 2009 - US President Barack Obama has accepted his Nobel Peace Prize at a ceremony in Norway's capital, Oslo.

In his acceptance speech, he said his accomplishments were slight compared with some previous laureates. He defended the US role in Afghanistan, saying sometimes war was necessary, but a just war could lead to a just peace.

Mr Obama was given the prize in October for his "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between peoples". The ceremony came days after Mr Obama announced he was sending 30,000 extra US soldiers to the war in Afghanistan.

There was a mixed reaction when he was named as the winner of the prize for 2009. Critics have said it is inappropriate for the prize to go to the commander-in-chief of a country involved in conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mr Obama said: "There will be times when nations - acting individually or in concert - will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified." "A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler's armies," he added. "Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda's leaders to lay down their arms."

Mr Obama also said: "Compared to some of the giants of history who have received this prize... my accomplishments are slight." He could not argue with those who said many previous laureates were "far more deserving" of the honour than him, he said.

Amid high security, the US president earlier signed the Nobel Prize book of previous laureates after arriving in Oslo with his wife, Michelle, on Thursday morning.

But there has been criticism because he did not have lunch with the king and queen, and is staying in Norway only one day, even though Nobel ceremonies are usually held over three.

At a news conference with Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, Mr Obama said he and his wife wished they could stay in the country longer. Anti-war demonstrators have gathered outside city hall, where the ceremony is taking place.

"We are protesting against him because he is going to have this prize and we don't think he is a man of peace," one protester, Anna Carraro, told AFP news agency.

The Nobel Prizes for chemistry, literature, medicine, physics and economics will also be presented in the Swedish capital Stockholm. Each laureate receives a diploma, a medal and 10m Krona ($1.4m; £865,000), which is shared by joint winners.

Coinciding with the Nobel ceremony, a statue of Mr Obama as a young boy was unveiled in a park in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta. The park is close to where the president lived between 1967 and 1971 and the statue depicts him as a 10-year-old wearing shorts, with a butterfly on his finger.

Central Jakarta Mayor Sylviana Murni said the statue was intended to inspire Indonesian children.

"There is a message through the young Obama statue that any child and anyone from any background can reach their dreams if they fight for it persistently," the Associated Press news agency quoted her as saying.

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