Nobel laureate the Dalai Lama called Barack Obama's controversial peace prize "a little early" as the US president used his acceptance speech to defend the war in Afghanistan.The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader told Sky News that Obama was energetic and "very able" but admitted the peace prize, also handed out to Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela, may be slightly premature.
"I think if you are realistic, it may have been a little early," he said during a visit to Australia. "But it doesn't matter, I know Obama is a very able person."
Obama was revealed as this year's winner in October, nine months into his presidency, and received the award in Oslo just days after announcing 30,000 more troops to fight the Taliban.
Thousands of protesters joined demonstrations in the Norwegian capital on Thursday, chanting, "Yes, Yes, Yes We Can, Stop the War in Afghanistan," in a parody of Obama's election campaign slogan.
The Dalai Lama, who won the prize in 1989, said the world might have to wait to see the true merits of placing Obama on the same list as Aung San Suu Kyi and Lech Walesa.
"When the peace prize was announced, (it was) a young American president, a very energetic president, (so) everybody feels very, very happy," he said.
"However, when this was announced ... there was some opinion that it is a little too early. But there is also some reason (to give it to Obama) so we have to wait."
Addressing the ceremony at Oslo City Hall, Obama sought to justify the Afghan war and admitted others were "far more deserving of this honour than I".
"I'm responsible for the deployment of thousands of young Americans to battle in a distant land. Some will kill, and some will be killed," he said.
"So, I come here with an acute sense of the costs of armed conflict -- filled with difficult questions about the relationship between war and peace, and our effort to replace one with the other."
He argued that war could "sometimes be not only necessary but morally justified", referring to the threat from Islamic militants such as Al-Qaeda.
"Compared to some of the giants of history who have received this prize -- (Albert) Schweitzer and King; (George) Marshall and Mandela -- my accomplishments are slight," he added.
The Nobel Committee chose Obama "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples" in announcing the award in October.
"Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future," the prize announcement said.
Obama later joked that he was still not sure he deserved the honour.
"I thought it was an excellent speech, and I was almost convinced that I deserved it," he said at a ceremonial banquet.