It's a decision that few would have predicted: This year's Nobel Peace Prize is going to US President Barack Obama. The Norwegian Nobel Committee commended the American leader's "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples."
America's first black President has urged global disarmament and sought to energize the stalled Middle East peace process since taking office nine months ago.
"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 the five-person Nobel Committee said in a statement. It gave special mention to Obama's vision for a world without nuclear weapons.
A Dynamic Image on the World Stage
In an unusual move, the Committee awarded Obama the prestigious prize early in his first term as president. Since taking office, the leader has cut a dynamic image on the world stage, presenting himself as a source of hope for a more peaceful world. Last month Obama chaired a historic meeting of the United Nations Security Council, which unanimously approved a US-drafted resolution urging states with nuclear weapons to scrap their arsenals.
Among his first actions as president, he ordered a withdrawal of American troops from Iraq in stages. He has also offered direct talks to aspiring atomic states Iran and North Korea. But at the same time, he is struggling to deal with the deadlock in the Middle East peace process and Iran's nuclear program. The war in Afghanistan also poses an ongoing challenge.
The Nobel Committee says it has always aimed to promote and encourage work towards peace and development.
Obama is the third senior US Democrat to win the award this decade after former Vice President Al Gore and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change won in 2007 and Jimmy Carter in 2002.
The award is valued at the equivalent of almost 1 million (10 million Swedish kronor). This year, 205 candidates were officially nominated, including more than 30 organizations. It prize will be handed over in Oslo, Norway in a ceremony to be held on Dec. 10.
Editor's note: Check SPIEGEL ONLINE later today for reactions and analysis on Obama's win.
jas -- and wire reports
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