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Oslo prepares for Obama Nobel ceremony

American President Barack Obama is travelling to Norway today to receive his Nobel Peace Prize.

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His visit to Oslo has prompted the biggest security operation in Norway’s history.

About 2,500 police officers from all over the country have been deployed to Oslo and the Norwegian military has contributed support in the form of helicopters and sharpshooters.

Last week, city maintenance crews welded shut over 400 manholes in downtown Oslo, and police say they will remove all downtown litter bins on Wednesday afternoon to eliminate potential hiding places for bombs.

On Wednesday morning, Norwegian police guarded the Grand Hotel as hotel workers installed bulletproof glass to protect the president during Thursday evening’s procession.

Police, some armed with machine guns, also guarded City Hall, where the prize ceremony will take place.

The Justice Ministry is spending 92 million Norwegian Kroner ($A17.5 million) on the security.

Criticism

The announcement of Obama’s prize in October prompted a mixed reaction. The president said he was “humbled” by the award, but there was criticism from some that it had come too early in his presidency.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee said it was honouring him “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”

Demonstrators in Oslo have already staged a candle-lit vigil outside the Grand Hotel to call on Obama to take stronger action on climate change.

The protestors vowed to shadow Obama at every stage of his visit to make sure he gets their message, which is that now he’s won the Peace Prize, he has to earn it.

Exhibition

Not far from Oslo’s City Hall, the Nobel Peace Centre has opened a special gallery packed with exhibits relating to the US leader.

The theme is “A Call to Action”… a quote from Obama’s acceptance speech for the prize.

The director of the museum, Bente Erichsen, says the exhibition reflects the controversy surrounding the decision to give the prize to Obama.

The displays include Obama memorabilia, as well as newspaper articles that were critical of the award.

At the same time, the gallery director stressed that it showed that the decision was in line with criteria set out in the will of Alfred Nobel, who endowed the prize.

Nobel said the prize should be awarded to the person who had done most to enhance peace, encourage disarmament and promote negotiations.

The exhibition also draws parallels between Obama and the black civil rights leader Martin Luther King.