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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Carter Wins Nobel Prize for Mideast Peace Efforts

PLAINS, Georgia -- Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for his commitment to diplomacy over war -- an honor that was delivered with a rebuke of the U.S. government for its hard line on Iraq.

Carter, 78, was cited for his peacemaking during and after his White House years, including brokering the Camp David accords in the Middle East, mediating other conflicts around the globe, serving as an election observer and promoting human rights.

In an unusual political aside, the Norwegian Nobel committee contrasted his 1978 success in using diplomacy to find peace between Egypt and Israel with U.S. President George W. Bush's vow to oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein by force if necessary.

"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 cooperation based on international law, respect for human rights and economic development," the citation said. It did not mention Iraq directly.

Carter, in his tiny hometown of Plains, said the award honors the staff of the Carter Center, the Atlanta policy center he and his wife founded 20 years ago. The center helps people in the world's poorest countries, emphasizing democracy, human rights and health care.

Most of the $1 million prize will go to the center, Carter said.

Carter rose from a small-town peanut farmer to the presidency in 1976 after a campaign that stressed honesty in the wake of the Watergate scandal.

After the presidency, he doggedly pursued a role on the world stage as a peacemaker and champion of democracy and human rights and burnished his reputation as a statesman.

Many consider Carter's crowning achievement as president to be the peace treaty he negotiated between Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Premier Menachem Begin. Carter kept them at Camp David for 13 days in 1978 to reach the accord; Sadat and Begin shared the Nobel Peace Prize that year.

In 1994 he helped intervene in conflicts in Haiti, North and South Korea and Bosnia. He has also monitored dozens of elections and met with human rights advocates around the world.

Carter said he did not think the committee's action was meant to send a message to Bush. He said the administration had come a long way from its earlier, tougher stance against Iraq.

"The international expressions of concern and those in our own country as well have already had a positive effect on our Washington leaders," Carter said. "My hope and expectation is that the influence of the world community will continue to play a beneficial role."