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Friday, 11 October, 2002, 20:22 GMT 21:22 UK
Nobel winner Carter voices Iraq concern
Egyptian President Anwar Sadat (L) and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin (R), seated next to Carter
Carter mediated peace between Egypt and Israel
Winner of this year's Nobel Peace Prize, former US President Jimmy Carter, has said the US Congress was wrong to give President George W Bush power to go to war with Iraq.

This honour serves as an inspiration not only to us but also to suffering people around the world and I accept it on their behalf

Jimmy Carter
However, speaking hours after being awarded the accolade, Mr Carter declined to comment on remarks by the chairman of the Nobel committee, who said the award was a criticism of President George Bush's policy on Iraq.

Chairman Gunnar Berge's remarks have sparked controversy within the committee, with some members arguing they are not representative of the group.

Mr Berge was commenting upon a line in the committee's announcement which said: "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."

'Signs of change'

Mr Carter said the prize served as an inspiration not only to him, but also to suffering people around the world.

"I accept it on their behalf," he said.

Mr Carter said that in the case of Iraq, there was an obligation to work through the United Nations Security Council and that the US should not act unilaterally.

Nobel Peace Prize Committee chairman Gunnar Berge
Chairman Berge had not cleared his remarks

But, he acknowledged, international pressure had meant that the Bush administration had toned down its statements about unilateralism.

"Every one of those has now been changed and I listened with care the other night to President Bush's speech and he said in many of those things just the opposite, that we would indeed work through the United Nations and we did not have any intention of acting unilaterally," Mr Carter said.

The former president also called for greater efforts to promote peace and justice.

"People everywhere share the same dream of a caring community that prevents war and oppression," he said.

Mr Carter is the third US president to receive the Nobel Peace Prize - after Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt.

Members disagree

The Nobel committee said it had honoured Mr Carter for "decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development".

Carter achievements
Brokered and signed the Camp David Accords in 1978 between Israel and Egypt
Persuaded former North Korean dictator Kim Il Sung to open discussions with South Korea
Mediated in Haiti in 1994
Helped broker ceasefire in Bosnia
Made 2002 landmark visit to Cuba, calling for dialogue

It said that during his 1977-1981 presidency, Mr 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".

Mr Berge said the award to Mr Carter "should be interpreted as a criticism of the line that the current administration has taken".

"It's a kick in the leg to all that follow the same line as the United States," he said.

But two of his colleagues disagreed.

"As I see it, that is not the committee's opinion," said Inger Marie Ytterhorn, of the right-wing Party of Progress.

However, committee member Gunnar Staalsett said he fully supported the chairman's remarks and agreed that the citation was indeed a criticism of Mr Bush.

The committee is appointed by the Norwegian parliament based on the strengths of the parties represented there, and correspondents say it is not usual for it to comment on current politics.

Mr Carter will receive the award at Oslo's City Hall on 10 December - the anniversary of the death of the prize's creator, Swedish industrialist - and the inventor of dynamite - Alfred Nobel.

The BBC's David Shukman
"His philosophy is that building bridges is better than threatening war"
Former US President Jimmy Carter
"It's very gratifying to me to see our folks at the Carter center so recognised"
Jimmy Carter's biographer Professor Douglas Brinkley
"Since leaving the White House Carter has worked tirelessly"

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Nobel Peace Prize
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See also:

11 Oct 02 | Americas
17 May 02 | Newsmakers
10 Oct 02 | Europe
12 Oct 01 | Europe
12 Oct 01 | Europe
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