YES, surprisingly, he could. Barack Obama, is the shock choice for the Nobel Peace Prize, less than a year after his election as US President.The Norwegian Nobel Committee’s decision, announced last night, praised Mr Obama for his ”extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between peoples”.——————————————————————-World leaders hail Obama’s surprise PrizeTaliban condemns Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize——————————————————————-Mr Obama is only the fourth US president to receive the prize, after Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and Jimmy Carter. The decision is expected to stir controversy in the US where the President is battling Congress over changes to the nation’s health-care system and its response to climate change.”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 Nobel communique said.”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 made special mention of ”his vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons,” and said his work had encouraged global efforts towards disarmament.”Thanks to Obama’s initiative, the US is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting,” it said. ”Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened.”Mr Obama’s foreign policy has been characterised by efforts to renew relations with some Middle Eastern nations. In January, he became the first president to grant an interview to an Arabic television network, Al-Arabiya. In March he sent a video message of greeting to Iran, saying he was willing to ”extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist”, a reference to Iran’s nuclear program.Speeches directed towards the Arab world in April and June were generally well received by leaders of Arabic nations. Mr Obama has also pledged to end combat operations in Iraq by August, more than seven years after the US led an invasion of that country to depose its leader, Saddam Hussein.Mr Obama, the son of a Kenyan father and an American mother, was inaugurated on January 20.The former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari won the award last year. In 2007 the former US vice-president Al Gore shared the prize with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
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