US President Barack Obama has said he was “surprised and deeply humbled” to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, less than 10 months into his presidency.
Speaking at the White House hours after the Norwegian Nobel Prize Committee named him as a surprise winner, he said the award should be a “call to action”.
The world faced challenges that “cannot be met by one person or by one nation alone,” Mr Obama said.
The committee said he won for efforts to boost diplomacy and co-operation.
“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,” the Norwegian committee said in a statement.
“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.”
Standing in the Rose Garden to make his first public statement since being woken early by aides bringing news of the award, Mr Obama stressed that his win was just the beginning of his work.
He said he did not feel he deserved to be in the company of some of the “transformative figures” who had previously received the award.
Some of his aims, particularly the goal of universal nuclear disarmament, would be difficult to achieve even within his lifetime, let alone his presidency, Mr Obama said.
And he sought to deflect some of the global surprise at his win, describing the award as “affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations”.
“I know that throughout history the Nobel Peace Prize has not just been used to honour specific achievements,” he said.
“It’s also been used as a means to give momentum to a set of causes. And that is why I will accept this award as a call to action, a call for all nations to confront the common challenges of the 21st Century.”
The White House has said that the cash prize that accompanies the award will be distributed among several charities.
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(Source: BBC news)