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(especially in light of who else was nominated...)

Jimmy Carter wins Nobel Peace Prize

DOUG MELLGREN

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Former President Jimmy Carter kisses his wife Rosalynn after holding a news conference in Plains, Ga., Friday to discuss his thoughts on being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. (AP/John Bazemore)

OSLO (AP) - Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for his "untiring effort" to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts and to advance democracy and human rights.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee contrasted Carter's success in finding peace between Egypt and Israel through diplomacy with President George W. Bush's pledge to oust Saddam Hussein, by force if necessary. "It (the award) should be interpreted as a criticism of the line that the current administration has taken," said Gunnar Berge, the committee chairman. "It's a kick in the leg to all that follow the same line as the United States."

Although the committee has often used the prize to send a political message, it rarely makes such a direct comment. Other members of the committee distanced themselves from Berge's statement, calling it his personal view.

"In the committee, we didn't discuss what sort of interpretation of the grounds there should be. It wasn't a topic," committee member Hanna Kvanmo was quoted as telling the Norwegian news agency NTB.

The committee cited Carter's "vital contribution" to the Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt and his efforts in conflict resolution on several continents and the promotion of human rights after his presidency.

"In a situation currently marked by threats of the use of power, Carter has stood by the principles that conflicts must as far as possible be resolved through mediation and international co-operation based on international law, respect for human rights, and economic development," the citation said, without mentioning Iraq.

The award is worth $1 million US.

Bush called his predecessor to congratulate him and the two spoke for a few minutes.

"It was a friendly conversation," White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said, adding that Bush was "pleased to be able to congratulate a former American president on winning such a prestigious award."

Fleischer declined to respond to Berge's statement.

"The president thinks this is a great day for Jimmy Carter and that's what he's going to focus on," he said.

In a statement posted on the Carter Center's Web site, the 39th president said: "My concept of human rights has grown to include not only the rights to live in peace, but also to adequate health care, shelter, food, and to economic opportunity. I hope this award reflects a universal acceptance and even embrace of this broad-based concept of human rights."

In an interview later on CNN, Carter declined to comment on the implied criticism of the administration's handling of the crisis with Iraq, but said he would have voted "No" Thursday on the congressional resolution allowing the president to use force against Iraq.

But Carter said he felt that the administration had come a long way from earlier threats to attack Iraq, unilaterally if necessary.

"I listened with care the other night to President Bush's speech, and he said  . . . just the opposite. That we would indeed work through the United Nations and that we did not have any intention of working unilaterally."

Carter has said his most significant work has been through the Carter Center, an ambitious, Atlanta-based think-tank and activist policy centre he and wife, Rosalynn, founded in 1982 and which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.

"It's very gratifying to me to see our folks at the Carter Center so recognized," Carter said.

Perhaps his crowning achievement as president was the peace treaty he negotiated between Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Premier Menachem Begin. Carter kept them at Camp David for 13 days in 1978 to reach the accord; Sadat and Begin shared the Nobel Peace Prize.

The Nobel committee said Carter, who was in the White House from 1977-1981, didn't share in that prize because he wasn't nominated in time.

Carter is the third American president to be awarded the prize. Woodrow Wilson received it in 1919 for his role in establishing the League of Nations, a forerunner to the United Nations. Theodore Roosevelt received the prize in 1906 for his role in establishing several peace treaties.

The last American to receive the peace prize was Jody Williams and her International Campaign to Ban Landmines in 1997.

Former secretary of state Henry Kissinger shared the 1973 award with Le Duc Tho of then-North Vietnam, who declined it.

The five-member committee made its decision last week after months of secret deliberations as it sought the right message for a world still dazed by the Sept. 11 terror attacks, the war on terrorism that followed and concern about a possible U.S. military strike against Iraq.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, one of this year's nominees, had called a press conference in Kabul in advance of the announcement, but ended up congratulating Carter.

"He deserved it better than I, and he won it, and I'll try for next year," he said at his presidential palace in Kabul.

Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham said the award sends a message that the international community "would like to see the U.S. engaged in being proactive in the world using multilateral institutions in a way that furthers U.S. interests."

Portuguese President Jorge Sampaio said the prize was "a just reward" and "wholly deserved." He singled out Carter's efforts to find a peaceful solution for East Timor, a former Portuguese colony annexed by Indonesia.

Last year's award was shared by the UN and Secretary General Kofi Annan.

The peace prize announcement capped a week of Nobel prizes after the awards for literature, medicine, physics, chemistry and economics were announced in Sweden's capital, Stockholm.

The Nobel committee received a record 156 nominations - 117 individuals and 39 groups, including 19-year-old Canadian children's rights activist Craig Kielburger.

Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair were nominated, but their chances for winning seemed doubtful at a time when they are poised to launch a military strike against Iraq.

The first Nobel Peace Prize, in 1901, honoured Jean Henry Dunant, the Swiss founder of the Red Cross.

The prizes were created by Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel in his will and always are presented on Dec. 10, the anniversary of his 1896 death.

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On the Net:

Nobel site - nobel.no

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awarding the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize to former U.S. president Jimmy Carter:

"The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2002 to Jimmy Carter, for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development.

During his presidency (1977-1981), Carter's mediation was a vital contribution to the Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt, in itself a great enough achievement to qualify for the Nobel Peace Prize. At a time when the Cold War between East and West was still predominant, he placed renewed emphasis on the place of human rights in international politics.

Through his Carter Center, which celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2002, Carter has since his presidency undertaken very extensive and persevering conflict resolution on several continents. He has shown outstanding commitment to human rights, and has served as an observer at countless elections all over the world. He has worked hard on many fronts to fight tropical diseases and to bring about growth and progress in developing countries. Carter has thus been active in several of the problem areas that have figured prominently in the over one hundred years of peace prize history.

In a situation currently marked by threats of the use of power, Carter has stood by the principles that conflicts must as far as possible be resolved through mediation and international co-operation based on international law, respect for human rights, and economic development."

NAME - James Earl "Jimmy" Carter Jr.

AGE - 78; born Oct. 1, 1924

HOME - Plains, Ga.

EDUCATION - Graduated in 1946 from the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

EXPERIENCE - Entered state politics in 1962. Lost his first gubernatorial campaign in 1966, but won the next election to become Georgia governor in 1971. Served as Democratic National Committee campaign chairman for the 1974 congressional elections. In 1976, defeated Republican president Gerald Ford in the first post-Watergate election to become president. Returned home to Georgia after losing in a landslide to Ronald Reagan in 1980 after a presidency undermined by double-digit inflation, an energy crunch and the 444-day hostage crisis in Iran.

CARTER CENTER - With wife Rosalynn and Emery University, created in 1982 the Atlanta-based think-tank and activist policy centre to addresses national and international issues.

FAMILY - Married Rosalynn Smith. The Carters have three sons and a daughter.

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