(CNN) — President Barack Obama said Friday that he was humbled by the decision of the Norwegian Nobel Committee to award him the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize.
“I am both surprised and deeply humbled,” Obama said at the White House.
“I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments. But rather as an affirmation of American leadership. … I will accept this award as a call to action.”
The president had not been mentioned as among front-runners for the prize, and the roomful of reporters gasped when Thorbjorn Jagland, chairman of the Nobel committee, uttered Obama’s name.
Nominations for the prize had to be postmarked by February 1 — only 12 days after Obama took office. The committee sent out its solicitation for nominations last September — two months before Obama was elected president.
The Nobel committee recognized Obama’s efforts to solve complex global problems including working toward a world free of nuclear weapons.
“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 committee said.