Friday, October 9, 2009

Obama congratulated by the world

The surprise decision to award U.S. President Barack Obama the Nobel Peace Prize elicited swift reaction Friday, with some hailing the choice and others expressing astonishment and skepticism.

World leaders and Nobel laureates congratulated US President Barack Obama on winning the Nobel Peace Prize Friday, after the shock announcement by the Nobel Institute in Oslo.

The award, coming less than nine months into Obama's presidency, was hailed by most as recognition of the president's bold moves to reduce conflict in the world, and in some quarters as a premature, political gesture.

From the White House, ahead of a speech later in the day, word came that the president felt 'humbled' by the award.

Leading the praise from Oslo immediately after the announcement was Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, who said that it was 'an important prize' that 'could help contribute to make the president's visions into effect'.

Nelson Mandela, who won the Peace Prize in 1993 for negotiating an end to Apartheid in South Africa, called on the US leader to use the prize to help fight poverty.

'We trust that this award will strengthen his commitment, as the leader of the most powerful nation in the world, to continue promoting peace and the eradication of poverty.'

In Europe, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso all added their words of congratulation.

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