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Carter Honored by Nobel Peace Prize to be Awarded Tuesday - 2002-12-09

Former President Jimmy Carter says he's honored to be receiving the Nobel Peace Prize on Tuesday, and hopes that it will provide a boost to the search for peace and democracy around the world.

At a news conference, the former president said he thinks the Nobel committee decided to give him the prize primarily due to efforts that his organization, The Carter Center, has made since its founding 20 years ago.

The Center is actively involved in 65 countries, helping to eradicate infectious diseases, observe elections and mediate regional conflicts.

President Carter says the organization has been able to help some of the most needy people in the world. "This has really taken us by default into the most poverty-stricken and suffering and neglected countries on earth, and even in those countries to the isolated villages to people who've not been served by their own governments," he said. "And that's where I feel most proud of what has been done with my leadership and that of my wife for the last 20 years."

Mr. Carter is perhaps best known in recent years for his role as an election observer in countries throughout Africa, Asia and Latin America. He has also played a key role in trying to resolve conflicts, including those in Ethiopia and Sudan.

Mr. Carter said this evolved from what he considers one of his major achievements as president, the landmark Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt in 1978. That year, he nearly shared the Nobel Peace Prize won by the Egyptian and Israeli leaders.

The former U.S. president said he is disappointed that efforts to secure a lasting peace in the Middle East have been unsuccessful. "I think this is the single most disturbing element in animosities and misunderstandings and hatred and even violence in the world," he said.

Mr. Carter also commented on the situation in Iraq, saying he still believes that a war there can be avoided if Baghdad cooperates fully with the United Nations resolution on weapons inspections. "If there is compliance as judged by the U.N. Security Council, then I see no reason for armed conflict," he said.

Some analysts say the Nobel Committee selected President Carter for the Peace Prize in part to express its opposition to the current U.S. government's policy on Iraq.

Jimmy Carter will receive the Nobel Peace Prize on Tuesday in a ceremony at Oslo's City Hall.