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Carter accepts Nobel Peace Prize

Carter: "The United Nations is the best place for nations to resolve the differences that always exist"

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Carter accepts Nobel Peace Prize for a life of public service. (December 10)
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The Nobel Peace Prize committee admits the award to former U.S. President Jimmy Carter sends a message. CNN's Wolf Blitzer reports (December 10)
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Do you agree with the choice of Jimmy Carter for the Nobel Peace Prize?


OSLO, Norway (CNN) -- Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter accepted the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize on Tuesday, an award that recognized a life of public service.

In his acceptance speech, Carter urged people everywhere to work for peace in a world that has become "a more dangerous place."

"It is with a deep sense of gratitude that I accept this prize," Carter said. "I am grateful to my wife, Rosalyn, to my colleagues at the Carter Center and to the many others who continue to seek an end to violence and suffering throughout the world."

In what seemed to be a veiled reference to U.S. threats of military action against Iraq, Carter talked about war.

"Instead of entering a millennium of peace, the world is now, in many ways, a more dangerous place. The greater ease of travel and communication has not been matched by equal understanding and mutual respect," he said.

"War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good. We will not learn to live together in peace by killing each other's children."

He urged respect for the United Nations and said the United States, as the last superpower, has "not assumed that super strength guarantees super wisdom."

Carter's nomination for the Nobel Prize is in recognition of decades of work for peace, human rights and democracy, from Cuba to North Korea.

At a news conference in Oslo on the eve of receiving his $1 million prize, Carter himself reckoned he was getting the award for 20 years of work at his Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia, rather than his deeds as president.

While president, he came close to winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1978, when Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat shared the award for a peace deal he brokered.

Carter says he was disappointed in the presidents after him -- Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton -- for not capitalizing on the Camp David Accords he brokered.

In addition, Carter urged the United States to respect the United Nations' rulings on policy over Iraq.

Carter also called for renewed efforts to solve "the festering problem" of Israel and its neighbors.

Carter told a news conference on Monday: "If there is (Iraqi) compliance, as judged by the U.N. Security Council, then I see no reason for armed conflict."

President George W. Bush has threatened to take military action to oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, with or without U.N. support, if Washington judges that Baghdad has lied about its weapons.

Carter spoke as experts in New York and Austria began analyzing the contents of Iraq's dossier detailing its weapons programs. (Full story)

The 78-year-old statesman, who was U.S. president from 1977 to 1981, said Iraq appeared to be complying with U.N. inspectors so far, based on evidence from U.N. officials.

"The United Nations is the best place for nations to resolve the differences that always exist," he said.

But he warned that conflict would be "quite likely" if Iraq did not remove or account for all of its weapons.

Gunnar Berge, chairman of Peace Prize committee, said when the prize was announced that giving it to Carter should be considered a "kick in the leg" to Bush for his hard line against Iraq.

Carter also expressed hope for implementation of a 1967 U.N. resolution telling Israel to withdraw from occupied territories in return for other nations respecting its right to live in peace within secure borders.

He said: "One of the key factors that arouses intense feelings of animosity in the world is the festering problem in the Holy Land, the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and the inability of Israel to live in peace with its neighbors.

"I think this is the single most disturbing element in animosities and misunderstandings and hatred and even violence in the world.

"I think that is an exacerbating factor in dividing people, not only in the West Bank, Gaza and Israel, but also throughout the world."

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