Page last updated at 11:30 GMT, Thursday, 10 December 2009

Obama's Nobel Peace Prize protocol breach irks Norway

Barack Obama at the White House, 7 October 2009
Barack Obama expressed surprise on receiving the award

US President Barack Obama has irked some Norwegians for truncating a three-day schedule of events organised around his receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Mr Obama will spend only 24 hours in the Norwegian capital, Oslo, because of his busy schedule.

He is due to meet the Norwegian prime minister but has turned down an invitation to have lunch with the king.

Nor will he be attending the Nobel concert, a children's event or giving a full press conference.

He will, however, attend a banquet and deliver a lecture - among other activities - before he leaves early on Friday morning.

He will also watch a torch-light procession from a balcony of the Grand Hotel, fitted with bullet-proof glass.


Norwegian daily Aftenposten carried a story about how everybody but Obama wants to visit Oslo's Peace Centre, one of the locations that has been removed from his schedule. An expert interviewed in the article called his attitude "a bit arrogant".

Under the headline: "Norwegians' verdict: Obama is impolite" the daily tabloid VG published details of a poll, according to which only a third of those questioned believed it was acceptable for Mr Obama to cancel his lunch with King Harald. Some 44% said they thought it was impolite.

"I think the impression is that, firstly, we've spent a lot of money preparing for this visit and then he should be more visible and be doing things in our country," said Jan-Erik Laure, news editor of the newspaper.

He said that though Mr Obama would be meeting the king, he was skipping the official lunch and the Norwegian press would not have the opportunity of asking him questions during a brief press conference.

"I think Norwegians also feel let down," he added. "There is the impression that the cancellation is somewhat because of policy in the US - he doesn't want to be that much exposed to those who think he shouldn't have won it, and accuse him of not concentrating enough on internal politics."

Mr Obama has spoken of his surprise of being chosen for the award and has admitted he did not feel he deserved to be in the company of some of the "transformative figures" who had previously received it.

The Nobel committee has defended its choice, saying it wanted to support the US president's goals, especially in strengthening international institutions and working towards a world free of nuclear arms.

The Nobel laureate - chosen by a five-member committee - wins a gold medal, a diploma and 10m Swedish kronor ($1.4m).

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