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Obama accepts Nobel prize
OSLO, DEC 10 (DPA):
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Published on 11 Dec. 2009 12:10 AM IST
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US President Barack Obama Thursday accepted the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize saying he was a “living testimony to the moral force of non-violence”, while at the same time defending the use of force. Crediting the achievements of non-violence proponents like Mahatma Gandhi and 1964 laureate Martin Luther King, Obama also underlined that he was “the commander-in-chief of a nation in the midst of two wars”, referring to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. “I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: evil does exist in the world,” he said in his acceptance speech in the Norwegian capital. The prize was awarded to Obama in October for his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between peoples”. He said “force can be justified on humanitarian grounds, as it was in the Balkans, or in other places that have been scarred by war”, calling for the need to strengthen UN and regional peacekeeping. “The US cannot act alone,” he added, and said the US “must remain a standard bearer in the conduct of war”, citing his order to close the Guantanamo prison camp and banning torture. While seeking nuclear disarmament, he said Iran and North Korea should not flout rules and warned against ignoring “the danger of an arms race in the Middle East or East Asia”. Noting that he was at the start of his “labours on the world stage”, Obama acknowledged that “compared to some of the giants of history who have received this prize - (Albert) Schweitzer and King; (George C) Marshall and (Nelson) Mandela - my accomplishments are slight”. Nobel Committee Chairman Thorbjorn Jagland hailed Obama’s presence, saying it showed that “so much of Dr. King’s dream has come true”. Attending the ceremony was US First Lady Michelle Obama, members of the Norwegian royal family and government. Obama is the third sitting US president to win the prize. It was previously awarded in 1906 to Theodore Roosevelt and in 1919 to Woodrow Wilson. Earlier Thursday, Obama said he had been surprised at being awarded the prize. “I have no doubt that there are others who may be more deserving,” Obama said at a joint news conference with Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg. “My task here is to continue on the path that I believe is not only important for America, but important for lasting peace and security in the world,” he added. He cited “a host of initiatives”, ranging from climate change to a world free from nuclear weapons, strengthening mechanisms to avert the spread of nuclear weapons and stabilizing countries like Afghanistan - all of which he had launched this year. The president arrived early Thursday amid massive security, with some 2,000 officers on duty in central Oslo, in addition to some 200 US security staff. Low-flying helicopters also flew over the city. Security fences have been raised along main streets, sharpshooters have been posted on many buildings, and motorists were advised to expect delays. A banquet at the Grand Hotel Thursday evening caps the formal events for the president, whose entire visit is only scheduled to last some 26 hours. The Nobel prizes for medicine, physics, chemistry, literature and economics were to be handed out later Thursday in the Swedish capital, Stockholm.

 
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