OSLO (AP) - President Barack Obama is the surprise winner on the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize.
Obama's name had been mentioned as a possible recipient, but many Nobel watchers believed it was too soon into his presidency. The Norwegian Nobel Committee saw it differently, saying "Obama is now the world's leading spokesman" for the kind of international diplomacy it has sought to stimulate.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee says Obama is receiving the honor because of "his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples."
According to the committee "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." It goes on to say "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."
The committee says it attached special importance to Obama's vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.
The panel says "Obama has as president created a new climate in international politics." One in which, it says "Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play."
It cited Obama's initiatives to rid the world of nuclear weapons, ease tensions with the Muslim world and stress diplomacy and cooperation over unilateralism. It also praised the "more constructive role" the U.S. is playing on climate change under Obama's leadership.
President Barack Obama woke up to the news before 6 a.m. Eastern time. The White House press secretary Robert Gibbs phoned the president with the word after learning of the news from reporters.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)