Obama accepts criticism in Oslo

OSLO - US President Barack Obama acknowledged criticism of his Nobel Peace Prize yesterday but said he hoped it would subside if he succeeded in his goals, including cutting nuclear weapons and tackling climate change.

OSLO - US President Barack Obama acknowledged criticism of his Nobel Peace Prize yesterday but said he hoped it would subside if he succeeded in his goals, including cutting nuclear weapons and tackling climate change.

Speaking in Norway before collecting the prize, Obama also reaffirmed US troops would begin transferring responsibility for Afghan security to local forces in July 2011 but said there would be no "precipitous drawdown".

Obama will accept the prize just nine days after ordering 30000 more US troops to Afghanistan to counter the momentum of the Taliban. The escalation of the war effort there, and Obama's failure to achieve breakthroughs on other key priorities such as Middle East peace, have fuelled criticism that the award is premature.

"I have no doubt that there are others that may be more deserving. My task here is to continue on the path I believe is not only important for America but important for lasting peace in the world," Obama said in response to a question on how he planned to use the accolade to advance his goals.

He said that meant pursuing a world free of nuclear weapons; addressing climate change; stabilising countries like Afghanistan and "mobilising an international effort to deal with terrorism."

Some of these initiatives were beginning to bear fruit, Obama told a joint news conference with Norwegian prime minister Jens Stoltenberg.

Stoltenberg told journalists the prize was well deserved and "can contribute in itself to strengthening the efforts of the president to work for peace". - Reuters

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