OSLO - Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter arrived in Oslo Sunday to collect the Nobel Peace Prize and said Iraqi compliance with U.N. weapons inspectors was a "good step" toward averting any U.S.-led war.
Carter, a 78-year-old Democrat, landed at Oslo airport two days before he collects the $1.0 million prize at a glittering prize ceremony in Oslo's City Hall.
Nobel laurate, former President Jimmy Carter, arrives in Oslo, Norway Sunday, Dec. 8, 2002. Carter will receive the Nobel Peace Prize on Tuesday Dec. 10, at a ceremony taking place in Oslo City Hall. (AP Photo/Scanpix, Bjoern Sigurdsoen)
Asked if chances of a U.S.-led war against Baghdad had diminished because President Saddam Hussein had allowed back U.N. weapons inspectors, he told reporters:
"Yes, I think that if Iraq does continue to comply completely then I see no reason for the war and I think it's a good step forward," he said. "But nobody knows what to expect."
Iraq issued a giant dossier Saturday which it says shows it has no weapons of mass destruction despite deep skepticism by President Bush. Bush has threatened war if the United States judges that Baghdad is deceiving the international community.
The five-member Nobel Committee announced in October that it was awarding Carter, who was president in 1977-81, the prize 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.
But the head of the Committee, Gunnar Berge, went beyond the official citation to say bluntly that the award was also meant as a "kick in the legs" to Bush because of his drive to oust Saddam.
Carter said in September that it would be a "tragic mistake" for the United States to attack Iraq without the support of the United Nations.
Saturday, Saddam also apologized for his country's 1990-1991 occupation of his oil-rich neighbor Kuwait. In his letter, however, he blamed Kuwait's leadership for precipitating the invasion.
Carter, who has worked for peace in nations from Haiti to North Korea since he stepped down as president, will give a news conference Monday before receiving the prize Tuesday. "We're very grateful for the honor and looking forward to the ceremonies," he said on behalf of himself, family, friends and colleagues.
Copyright 2002 Reuters Ltd