Carter Urges More Diplomacy on Iraq

Ex-President Blames Neglect of Mideast for Anti-American Mood

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Listen: Hear an extended version of Bob Edwards' interview with former President Jimmy Carter.

Listen: Hear Carter's Nobel Lecture, his speech accepting the peace prize last December.

Jimmy Carter

Former President Jimmy Carter blames U.S. government for neglecting Mideast peace. Rick Diamond hide caption

itoggle caption Rick Diamond

The United States should do more to find a peaceful solution to the weapons standoff with Iraq, former President Jimmy Carter says. But, in a Morning Edition interview with NPR's Bob Edwards, Carter says that if Iraq fails to comply with U.N. resolutions, "war would be inevitable."

"The American people have two basic commitments that are pretty universal," Carter says. "One is that we want Iraq to eliminate all weapons of mass destruction and, secondly, we'd like to do this peacefully. My hope is, and my prayer is, that we can accomplish both those goals."

Carter says he supports another U.N. resolution on Iraq before any military action against Baghdad is taken. "The bottom line is Iraq must comply with United Nations resolutions to eradicate all weapons of mass destruction and I think if Iraq refuses to comply, then a war would be inevitable."

The former president and recent Nobel Peace Prize recipient blames the stalemate in the Mideast peace process on "the lack of vigor" by the Bush administration in seeking a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He says the stalemate has "driven a dividing line between us and Muslims throughout the world and others who think that the United States is the only avenue to peace."

Carter called on the U.S. government to work with Russia, Great Britain and the United Nations to develop and aggressively pursue a peace proposal based on U.N. Resolution 242 — adopted after the 1967 Six Day War — which calls for the withdrawal of Israel from the occupied territories.

He also urged the Bush administration to find a way to hold direct talks with North Korea to end the current deadlock over that nation's nuclear weapons program.

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