President Carter Speaks at "Winter Weekend"

President Carter Speaks at "Winter Weekend"

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Former President Jimmy Carter delivered a speech in Utah in which he blames U.S. policy in the Middle East for creating animosity abroad -- but the former president did not take a stand for or against war with Iraq.

Carter, 78, appeared Thursday night at a private meeting with 300 donors and friends to raise money for the Atlanta-based Carter Center, which promotes peace, democracy and world health. He was accompanied by his wife, Rosalynn.

Carter spoke about the mission of his center, then took questions from the audience.

One man asked if Carter, as reported in Britain's Daily Mirror, had signed a petition opposing going to war. Carter said the story was not true, that reporters had come to his Sunday school while he was there, but he told them he did not give interviews in church.

Since Feb. 6, when Secretary of State Colin Powell brought the U.S. case against Saddam Hussein to the U.N. Security Council, Carter has refused numerous other requests seeking comment.

Carter did not comment Thursday on Powell's recent address, but he did have great praise for the secretary of state.

"Colin Powell is caught in difficult circumstances," Carter said. "I'm glad he's there."

In his most recent statement about Iraq, issued Jan. 31, he said "any belligerent move by Saddam against a neighbor would be suicidal" with the country under intense monitoring from satellite surveillance and the U.N. inspection team.

"If Iraq does possess concealed weapons, as is quite likely," Carter had said, "Saddam would use them only in the most extreme circumstances, in the face of an invasion of Iraq, when all hope of avoiding the destruction of his regime is lost."

Carter also noted that the United States is a major world supplier of weapons and ammunition, but less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the nation's wealth goes to help the world's poor. He said that's the lowest percentage of any developed nation.

Carter became the third president to win the Nobel Peace Prize, when he was honored in October for his efforts in negotiating solutions to conflicts worldwide.

President Theodore Roosevelt got his for negotiating the end of the Russo-Japanese War in 1905 and President Wilson for his role in the 1919 Versailles Conference after World War I.

While in the White House, Carter helped secure the 1978 Camp David accords for peace between Israel and Egypt. Since his defeat by Ronald Reagan in 1980, Carter has promoted human rights and most recently, criticized U.S. leaders' "pre-eminent obsession" with Iraq while not pressing for resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or pressuring North Korea to stop developing nuclear bombs.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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