President Barack Obama, 48, said that he was "both surprised and deeply humbled" when he learned that he had been awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize this morning.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee said Mr. Obama was awarded the award for "his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between peoples," according to the Associated Press. The Nobel Committee cited Obama's outreach to the Muslim world and his attempts to curb nuclear proliferation as grounds for its decision.
"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. "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."
President Obama will make a formal acceptance speech in December. But gave a statement on the award at the White House on Friday.
"I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments, but rather as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations," Mr. Obama said.
"And I know that throughout history the Nobel Peace Prize has not just been used to honor specific achievement; it's also been used as a means to give momentum to a set of causes," he continued. "And that is why I will accept this award as a call to action, a call for all nations to confront the common challenges of the 21st century."
Mr. Obama was chosen from a group of 205 nominees, including Zimbabwe's prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai and a group of Chinese dissidents who have been long critical of China's communist regime. Mr. Obama was inaugurated as president less than two weeks before the nomination deadline for the award.
Obama will receive a gold medal, a diploma and 10 million Swedish kronor, or about $1.4 million.
He's the third U.S. president to be awarded the prize, the AP reported, after Theodore Roosevelt in 1906, Woodrow Wilson in 1919 and Jimmy Carter, who was awarded the prize after leaving office in 2002. Former Vice President Al Gore shared the 2007 prize with the U.N. panel on climate change.
Since 1901, the Nobel Prize has honored men and women for outstanding achievements in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and for work in peace, according to the Nobel Prize website. The foundations for the prize were laid in 1895 when Stockholm, Sweden native Alfred Nobel wrote his last will, leaving much of his wealth to the establishment of the Nobel Prize.