Former US president Barack Obama has been named the winner of the 2017 John F Kennedy 'Profile in Courage' award for a career of "grace under pressure" and "exceptional dignity and courage".

John F Kennedy's daughter Caroline Kennedy said in a statement: "President Kennedy called on a new generation of Americans to give their talents to the service of the country. With exceptional dignity and courage, President Obama has carried that torch into our own time, providing young people of all backgrounds with an example they can emulate in their own lives."

The note read that Obama was being awarded for "expanding health security for millions of Americans, restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba and leading a landmark international accord to combat climate change".

The 44th president will be awarded the prize on 7 May at John F Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston by Kennedy and her son Jack Schlossberg.

It is given annually to public servants "whose actions demonstrate the qualities of politically courageous leadership in the spirit of 'Profiles in Courage'."

Meanwhile, Scholssberg said in a statement: "Our country owes a debt of gratitude to President Obama, not just for the many important policy achievements made during his tenure but also for the example of leadership he provided all of us, which we may draw upon in the years to come."

President Gerald R Ford was honoured with the award in 2001 for his decision to pardon Richard Nixon, while George HW Bush received it in 2014 for raising taxes during his tenure to deal with a deficit crisis.

Barack Obama
Barack Obama will receive the award from Caroline Kennedy and her son Jack Schlossberg on 7 May Alex Wong/Getty Images