Nobel Eyes Are on John Paul II and U.N.´s Annan

«Non-controversial» Figure Sought for Centenary of Award

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OSLO, Norway, SEPT. 28, 2001 ( John Paul II and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan are the favorite candidates for this year´s Nobel Peace Prize, Reuters reported.

Experts consulted by the news agency said that the five-member committee is seeking a high-profile winner, who is relatively non-controversial, to celebrate the centenary of the award, first conferred in 1901.

«I think that Kofi Annan is the candidate with the greatest possibilities this year,» especially given the fear of war, said Stein Toennesson, president of Oslo´s International Research Institute on Peace.

Adam Daniel Rotfeld, president of Stockholm´s International Research Institute on Peace, said he would like John Paul II to receive the award, for his efforts to reduce tensions among the world´s religions, or Annan and the United Nations.

«The Pope is the spiritual leader who has contributed to peace in many parts of the world,» Rotfeld said.

However, on Aug. 21, Lutheran Bishop Gunnar Staalseth of Oslo, a member of the Nobel Committee, met with U.N. leader Annan to propose the latter as recipient of the award.

In Annan´s presence, the Lutheran rejected John Paul II´s candidacy because the Pope is opposed to the use of condoms in the struggle against AIDS, promoting instead marital fidelity.

The Catholic Church looks after a third of AIDS patients worldwide.

Last year the Nobel award was conferred on South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, the first Catholic chief executive of that Asian country, for his efforts in reconciliation with North Korea.

The winner of this year´s award will be announced Oct. 12.

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