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Liu far more deserving of a Nobel than me: Obama

December 10, 2010 20:57 IST
Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo is far more deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize than him, United States President Barack Obama said on Friday after the former was awarded the coveted peace prize in absentia.

Obama, who received the Nobel Peace Prize 2009, regretted that Liu and his wife were denied the opportunity to attend the ceremony in Oslo on Friday and called on China to release him.

"One year ago, I was humbled to receive the Nobel Peace Prize -- an award that speaks to our highest aspirations, and that has been claimed by giants of history and courageous advocates who have sacrificed for freedom and justice. Liu Xiaobo is far more deserving of this award than I was," said Obama.

"All of us have a responsibility to build a just peace that recognises the inherent rights and dignity of human beings -- a truth upheld within the universal declaration of human rights. In our own lives, our own countries, and in the world, the pursuit of a just peace remains incomplete, even as we strive for progress," he said.

Obama said US respects China's extraordinary accomplishment in lifting millions out of poverty, and believes that human rights include the dignity that comes with freedom from want. "But Liu reminds us that human dignity also depends upon the advance of democracy, open society, and the rule of law," Obama said.

"The values he espouses are universal, his struggle is peaceful, and he should be released as soon as possible. I regret that Liu and his wife were denied the opportunity to attend the ceremony that Michelle and I attended last year," said Obama.

This past year saw the release of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, even as the Burmese people continue to be denied the democracy that they deserve, Obama said, adding that Nobel laureate Jose Ramos Horta has continued his tireless work to build a free and prosperous East Timor, having made the transition from dissident to president.