Former President Jimmy Carter said Thursday that President Barack Obama deserves his Nobel Peace Prize based on his achievements and the promise of an aggressive agenda that he's still working to fulfill.
"Obama deserves it as much as anyone who's ever gotten it for his achievement already," Carter, who won the prize himself in 2002, told The Associated Press in an interview. "He's transformed the image of America around the world, he's stopped the practice of torture, he's called for and taken leadership in doing away with nuclear weapons."
But Carter said Obama's award also reflects the aggressive agenda which the 44th U.S. president still has more than three years to fulfill, such as his attempts to jump-start the Mideast peace process and his work in resolving long-standing conflicts with Iran and others.
"I know how difficult some of those challenges are," said Carter. "So if you talk to almost any person in a foreign country, they would tell you their own particular hopes and dreams and aspirations for the future have been enhanced by the vision that Obama has put forward."
Obama, a Democrat, won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday in a surprising decision designed to build momentum behind his initiatives. But he has also faced criticism from some who saw it as too much too soon for a president who has yet to produce concrete achievements in peacemaking.
Carter, who was awarded the prize for his "decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions" in the White House and beyond, said Obama also won the award because he set a global example that others can follow.
"He's spelled out an agenda that can be adopted by others in Europe and around the world to lead toward increased peace and human rights and the alleviation of suffering," Carter said. "Those are all tangible contributions _ even though the fulfillment of all of them has got to require time to realize."