OSLO, Norway – Former President Jimmy Carter, in Oslo to collect his Nobel Peace Prize, said Monday that his support of President Bush is solid, provided he keeps working through the United Nations and weapons inspectors for a solution in Iraq.
The former president will accept his Nobel diploma and medal, and give a traditional lecture, at a gala ceremony Tuesday in the Oslo City Hall. The prize also includes a $1 million cash award.
Carter said at a news conference he supports the stance of President Bush so long as he continues to work for a solution on Iraq through the United Nations.
The debate over Iraq is even more pertinent because Gunnar Berge, chairman of Peace Prize committee, said that singling out Carter for the honor should be considered a "kick in the leg" to Bush.
Carter is being honored "for his 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, a Democrat who said he gets along well with the Republican president, urged Bush to support the efforts of international inspectors now searching for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. He also urged Iraq to comply with U.N. demands.
"If Iraq does comply completely with the mandate of the United Nations Security Council ... I see no need for a conflict," Carter said at the Norwegian Nobel Institute. "Otherwise, I think it is quite likely there will be an armed conflict."
Carter said he wasn't surprised by concern in Europe and elsewhere over possible military action in Iraq.
But he dismissed as "foolish" the sentiment that the main U.S. goal is to gain control of Iraq's vast oil reserves.
"There are many sources of oil in the world," he said. "I don't think any reasonable American citizen, certainly not our leaders, would have that as a pre-eminent consideration, just getting oil. We can buy oil ... at a cost must less than invading a country."
Carter said the United Nations is the right forum for countries to solve their differences and called on the United States to work with the body to find a solution in Iraq.
Carter, president from 1977-1981, was selected for this year's prize for his efforts to promote peace during more than two decades, including the 1978 Camp David Agreement for which he narrowly missed winning the prize because he wasn't nominated in time.
"I consider that the Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to me primarily because of the last 20 years of effort by the Carter Center," he said, referring to the Atlanta, Georgia-based center he founded in 1982 that is active in issues involving peace, human rights and health projects in 65 countries.
Carter said he was disappointed in the presidents after him -- Ronald Reagan, George Bush and Bill Clinton -- for not capitalizing on the Camp David Accords he brokered between Israel and Egypt.
The agreement won Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat the Nobel Peace Prize in 1978.
The Nobel prizes, first awarded in 1901, were created by Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel in his will and are always presented on Dec. 10, the anniversary of his death in 1896.
The peace prize is awarded in Oslo, while prizes in economics, medicine, physics, chemistry and literature are presented in Sweden.