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Jimmy Carter - 2002-10-16


Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize Friday -- for advancing peace, democracy and human rights.

The newest Nobel Prize laureate spoke from in his hometown in Plains, Georgia Friday – describing his reaction to an early morning phone call:

FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER
“First, I had a feeling of disbelief. We had a call -- Roslyn said -- at two minutes after four this morning. I thought it was some joker who was calling.”

But, it was not; just notification that he’d won the million-dollar Peace Prize. Mr. Carter’s award was decided two weeks ago by a five-man committee. But it was kept secret until Friday’s formal announcement. In Oslo, Norway, Friday, Nobel committee Chairman Gunner Berge read from the award citation:

GUNNER BERGE, NOBEL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN
“To Jimmy Carter for his decades of untiring efforts to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts.”

Another early morning phone call came Friday -- from current U.S. President George W. Bush. White House spokesman, Ari Fleischer.

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY
“The president was very pleased to be able to extend his congratulations to a former president.

Mr. Carter is being honored both for his efforts as president and for his untiring mediation in troubled international arenas. Just months ago, he visited Fidel Castro -- but, was unsuccessful in helping resolve Cuba’s escalating political conflicts.

A high-point of Mr. Carter’s one presidential term was brokering the 1978 Camp David Middle East peace agreement. But, he was nominated too late that year to share the prize with Egyptian and Israeli leaders -- Anwar Sadat and Menachim Begin.

The former president has been nominated in other years – and was credited with averting an American invasion of Haiti, in 1994. Former President Bill Clinton honored Mr. Carter, along with his wife Roslyn for their humanitarian efforts that year.

He has monitored elections in countless troubled countries – promoting peace talks among rival factions -- from Africa, to the Balkans, to South America. As a beloved elder statesman, Mr. Carter says he hopes efforts for the poorest people in 65 nations.

FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER
“Will be shared with others in expanding the definition of human rights. Beyond just the absence of war, and the absence of torture for suffering people, but to include the right of a human being to be free.”

There were 156 nominees for this year’s peace prize. President Carter received more congratulations at a news conference in Afghanistan – called, in case Afghan President Hamid Karzai had won.

HAMID KARZAI, AFGHAN PRESIDENT
“He deserved it better than I and he won it. And, I’ll try for next year.”

Last year’s award was shared by the United Nations and its secretary-general, Kofi Annan.

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