President Obama and First Lady Michelle arrived in Norway on Thursday after an overnight flight from Washington, stuffing in meetings with the Norwegian prime minister, king and queen before the president accepted the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize this morning.
The president, in his remarks, is expected to acknowledge the controversy surrounding his getting the award as he escalates the war in Afghanistan.
The president met with Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and held a brief joint press availability, and then the Obamas met King Harald V and Queen Sonja.
Obama is the third sitting U.S. president to win the prize, following Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. At the press event, Obama was asked about his "premature" prize and his reaction to the arrest of five Americans in Pakistan.
On the Nobel prize:
"I have no doubt that there are others who may be more deserving. My task here is to continue on the path that I believe is not only important for America, but important for lasting peace and security in the world. That means pursuing a world free of nuclear weapons over time and strengthening our mechanisms to avoid nuclear proliferation. That means addressing climate change in an effective way. It means stabilizing countries like Afghanistan and mobilizing an international effort to deal with terrorism that is consistent with our values and our ideals. It means addressing issues of development because we understand the connection between economic justice and peace.
"So on a whole host of initiatives that I've put forward this year, some of which are beginning to bear fruit, the goal is not to win a popularity contest or to get an award -- even one as esteemed as the Nobel Peace Prize. The goal has been to advance America's interests, to strengthen our economy at home, and to make ourselves a continuing force for good in the world -- something that we've been for decades now.
"And if I'm successful in those tasks, then hopefully some of the criticism will subside, but that's not really my concern. And if I'm not successful, then all the praise and the awards in the world won't disguise that fact."
On five American youths arrested in Pakistan for possibly trying to link up with terrorist groups, Obama said he preferred not to comment on an ongoing investigation, but he did have this to say about Muslim relations:
"I think what has been remarkable over the course of the last eight, nine years since 9/11 is the degree to which America has reaffirmed the extraordinary contributions of the Muslim American community and how they have been woven into the fabric of our nation in a seamless fashion; on the other hand, the degree to which the fierce loyalty towards America, the fierce patriotism and integration of Muslim Americans into America life have helped to avoid some of the problems that we've seen in other countries on this issue.
"Now, the Muslim American community is vast, so we have to constantly be mindful that some of these twisted ideologies are available over the Internet and can affect our young people. But I think we've got a good story to tell here and one that we need to build on."