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President Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize

President+Barack+Obama+speaks+at+a+press+conference+in+the+Rose+Garden+at+the+White+House+in+Washington%2C+D.C.%2C+after+winning+the+2009+Nobel+Peace+Prize+on+Oct.+9.
President Barack Obama speaks at a press conference in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, D.C., after winning the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize on Oct. 9.

WASHINGTON — PresidentBarack Obamawon the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, the first American president to win the award in his first year in office.

Despite his brief tenure on the job and lack of tangible achievements yet, the Nobel Committee said that it honored Obama “”for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.””

“”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,”” Nobel Chairman Thorbjoern Jagland said.

“”I am both surprised and deeply humbled by the decision of the Nobel Committee,”” the president said Friday morning at a hastily arranged event in the White House Rose Garden.

“”Let me be clear: I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments, but rather as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations.””

He called it an endorsement of his agenda on such issues as stopping the spread of nuclear weapons and fighting global climate change.

“”I will accept this award as a call to action,”” he said.

Norwegian officials said they expected Obama to travel to Oslo on Dec. 10 to accept the award.

The president was notified of the award about 6 a.m. EDT in a call from press secretaryRobert Gibbs. Obama joked that his daughters then came in and added that it was also their dog’s birthday and the start of a three-day holiday weekend, saying that it’s good to have children to keep things in perspective.

He becomes the fourth American president to win the award and the third to win while in office.

Theodore Rooseveltwon the 1906 prize after personally interceding to negotiate peace between Japan and Russia. Roosevelt brought the two sides to New Hampshire in September 1905 and helped negotiate a peace treaty after several weeks.

Woodrow Wilsonwon the 1919 prize after he pushed to create the League of Nations following World War I, traveling to Europe to negotiate.

Jimmy Carterwon the 2002 prize for what the committee called decades of work. As president, Carter brought Egypt and Israel together for weeks of talks that produced a peace deal. As a former president, he’s traveled the globe to promote human rights and mediate disputes.

Obama has urged peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians but so far has been rebuffed.

One Republican critic said the president’s accomplishments were few and that Obama’s charisma had blinded the Nobel committee.

“”The real question Americans are asking is, ‘What has President Obama actually accomplished?’ “” saidMichael Steele, the chairman of the Republican National Committee.

“”It is unfortunate that 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.””

Obama has improved the United States’ standing in the world as measured by polls in foreign countries, particularly after he reached out to the Muslim world in several speeches, including one from Cairo, Egypt.

“”The prize signals that America is definitively back in the world’s good graces, and the president deserves full credit for that,”” saidMartin Indyk, a former official in the Clinton administration who’s the vice president and the director of foreign policy at the Brookings Institution, a research center in Washington.

“”Now comes the hard part: turning good will into concrete results that can heal the wounds of a very troubled world. If Obama can do that, he’ll deserve another Nobel.””

The prize was a surprise at the White House.

“”It’s an honor. It’s nothing anyone expected. It’s certainly nothing the president sought,”” senior adviserDavid Axelrodsaid on MSNBC. “”I think that he’s less interested in individual honors — and this certainly is one — than in advancing the causes that were cited by the Nobel committee.””

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(c) 2009, McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

Visit the McClatchy Washington Bureau on the World Wide Web at www.mcclatchydc.com.

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GRAPHICS (from MCT Graphics, 202-383-6064): 20091009 Obama bio, 20091009 Leaders Nobel, 20091009 Nobel peace

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