WATCH: Barack Obama awards Joe Biden the Presidential Medal of Freedom

The surprise announcement came at an emotional ceremony at the White House

WATCH: Barack Obama awards Joe Biden the Presidential Medal of Freedom

President Barack Obama presents Vice President Joe Biden with the Presidential Medal of Freedom during a ceremony in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington. | Image: Susan Walsh AP/Press Association Images

Outgoing US President Barack Obama awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to his Vice President Joe Biden in a surprise move last night.

During the emotional White House ceremony, Obama said Biden was deserving of the award.

"For your faith in your fellow Americans, for your love of country and for your lifetime of service that will endure through the generations, I'd like to ask the military aide to join us on stage," Obama said. "For my final time as President, I am pleased to award our nation's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom."

Biden, who appeared extremely emotional during the tribute and was seen tearing up, accepted the award but said he did not deserve it.

"This honor is not only well beyond what I deserve, but it's a reflection of the extent and generosity of your spirit," Biden said. "I don't deserve this but I know it came from the President's heart."

Before announcing the honour, Obama also praised Biden's family, including his wife Jill, his children and grandchildren.

"This is the kind of family that built this country," Obama said. "That's why my family is honored to call ourselves honorary Bidens."
 
While their term is almost over, Obama noted the two will be "forever binded as a family," referring to him as his brother.
 
"If you can't admire Joe Biden as a person you've got a problem," Obama said quoting a Republican senator.
 
Biden said following the ceremony that he had no "inkling" of Obama's plans. 
 
 

What's next?

Biden hasn't ruled out a run for office in 2020, saying in December that "fate has a strange way of intervening".

Beyond that, he has reportedly decided to work with scientists and charities to cure cancer following his vice presidency.

"I’m going to stay involved in this effort as long as I’m alive," he told STAT, according to the International Business Times.