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World Reacts To Obama's Nobel

MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

And we start with NPR's Rob Gifford who's been gathering reaction outside the U.S.

ROB GIFFORD: There were audible gasps in the hall in Oslo as leader of the Norwegian Nobel Committee Thorbjoern Jagland announced that President Obama had won this year's Nobel Peace Prize. Though it was known he had been nominated, few people seriously believed that he would receive the prize, among a crowded field of global politicians and activists. But said Jagland, President Obama was the unanimous choice of the five member committee.

THORBJOERN JAGLAND: His diplomacy is founded in the concept of 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.

GIFFORD: Jagland said that under President Obama, multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position and he lauded the president's pledges to reduce the world's stock of nuclear weapons, ease conflicts with Muslim nations and strengthen the U.S. role in combating climate change. Congratulations then poured in for President Obama from world leaders, such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

ANGELA MERKEL: (Foreign Language Speaking)

GIFFORD: In a short time, Merkel said, President Obama has established a new tone creating a willingness for dialogue that everyone should support. Other former laureates such a Shimon Peres, Mikhail Gorbachev, Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela, all congratulated President Obama. Mohamed ElBaradei won the prize in 2005 as head of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

MOHAMED ELBARADEI: Nobody today in my view who is more deserving of that peace prize than Barack Obama. He is restoring the basic core values that every one of us should live by - dialogue, respect, democracy, due process, human rights, a security system that does not depend on nuclear weapons.

GIFFORD: But not everyone took part in the transatlantic love-in. Some critics were scornful that President Obama was being rewarded for his intentions rather than his achievements, or even that he was simply receiving the award just for not being President Bush. Others such as Mehdi Hasan, a senior editor at the New Statesman magazine in London, are angry at the president's continuation of Bush administration policies.

MEHDI HASAN: This is a president, who, for right reasons or wrong reasons, has escalated the war in Afghanistan over the past nine months. He's doubled the size of the U.S. military contingent there, doubled the size of bases like Bagram. He's killed through air strikes more civilians in Pakistan in nine months than Bush killed in the whole of 2008. So, it does slightly stick in my throat to see him getting a peace prize.

GIFFORD: Rob Gifford, NPR News, London. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Rob Gifford
Rob Gifford is the NPR foreign correspondent based in Shanghai.