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Members of the Nobel Peace Prize committee that made the award to US President Barack Obama have been offering a strong and unusual public defence of their choice. Four of the five-person panel told the Associated Press they had expected the decision to generate surprise and criticism and three rejected the idea that Obama had not accomplished anything to merit the award. A fourth would not answer that question and a fifth didn’t answer his phone. Committee chairman Thorbjoen Japland said, “We simply disagree that he has done nothing. He got the prize for what he has done.” Japland specifically cited Obama’s attempts to heal the divisions between the West and the Islamic world and his cancellation of an anti-ballistic missile system in Central Europe. Moreover, the committee’s vote was unanimous and followed the Nobel bequest: “The prize should go to the person who has contributed most to the development of peace in the previous year.”

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