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Obama lands in Oslo for Nobel prize
US president to receive prize for 'extraordinary efforts' in world diplomacy.
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2009 12:16 GMT
Obama is to receive the Nobel Peace Prize days after increasing the number of troops in Afghanistan [AFP]
 

Barack Obama, the US president, has arrived in Norway to accept the Nobel Peace Prize for his "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy".

Military helicopters circled above the hotel where Obama is due stay on Thursday in  Oslo, the capital.

Obama has been seen as a controversial nominee for the award because of the United States' engagement in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He will accept the award just nine days after he ordered an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan.

Todd Kent, a US government professor at the Texas A&M University in Qatar, told Al Jazeera that Obama had not expected to receive the award.

"He didn't expect it, he didn't ask for it, so I think it was difficult for him and I think they spent a lot of time trying to downplay the whole award."

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Kent added Obama was likely to speak about the situation in Afghanistan upon receiving the prize.

"I expect he will talk about what peace means to the world and the aspirations of the world and maybe what's happening in Afghanistan can lead to that.

"It brings up the interesting question of if he was to do nothing in Afghanistan would that give us a better long-term prospect for peace?

"Or does this [situation] in Afghanistan give us better hope for the future? I  think he's going to have to address some of those things."

Award criticised

After less than a year in power, and with public opinions polls showing his popularity fading at home, Obama faces a sensitive task during a day of solemn ceremonies in Oslo.

Jon Favreau, a senior speechwriter for Obama, said the president would speak about the odd coincidence of accepting the revered prize a week after ordering the troop increase in Afghanistan.

"The president is receiving a peace prize as the commander-in-chief of a nation that is in two wars," Favreau said.

Many critics have suggested that Obama has not had a long enough or successful enough period in office to stand with other Nobel peace laureates, but aides say the president will seek to deflect attention from himself during his acceptance speech.

"He sees this as less of a recognition of his own accomplishments and more of an affirmation of a desire for American leadership in the 21st century," Favreau said.

Award 'justified'

Geir Lundestad, the secretary of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, told public radio NRK this week that most US presidents face conflicts and wars - but the new mood in US foreign policy justified awarding Obama the peace prize.

Obama will be in Oslo for just over 24 hours to pick up the award, and will join a list of laureates that include Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa and Aung San Suu Kyi.

Events related to the formal Nobel Peace Prize ceremony normally run over three days, but the president has shortened his visit and excluded the traditional lunch with the king and a Friday night concert in his honour.

Obama will watch the traditional torchlight procession on Thursday evening from the balcony of the Grand Hotel, where bullet-proof glass has been installed.

Other Nobel laureates in the fields of medicine, physics, chemistry, economics and literature will receive their awards at a gala ceremony in Stockholm, the Swedish capital, on Thursday.

Source:
Agencies
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