WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama will not shirk from mentioning Afghanistan and his decision to send more troops to the war zone when he accepts the Nobel Peace Prize this week, the White House said on Monday.
Acknowledging the irony of a wartime president winning a peace prize, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Obama would address this juxtaposition in his acceptance speech in the Norwegian capital Oslo on Thursday.
When it was announced in October that Obama had won the prize, the president made clear that while he was deeply humbled by the award, he was still the commander in chief of a country at war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Obama told Americans in a televised address last week he was escalating the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan to reverse the momentum of the Islamist Taliban militia and defeat its elusive ally, al Qaeda.
The president said 30,000 more troops would be sent to Afghanistan, bringing the total number of U.S. forces in the country to about 100,000.
We'll address directly the notion that many have wondered, which is the juxtaposition of the timing for the Nobel Peace Prize and -- and his commitment to add more troops around -- into Afghanistan, Gibbs said.
Some opinion polls show a majority of Americans question whether Obama deserved the Nobel in the first place, given that he has achieved so little in his young presidency.
The Nobel Committee praised Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples and cited his push for nuclear disarmament and his outreach to the Muslim world.
The president plans to donate the prize money of 10 million Swedish crowns -- about $1.4 million -- but Gibbs said no decision had been made on which charities to give it to.
(Editing by John O'Callaghan)