TRANSCRIPT: Former President Jimmy Carter

Former President Carter would not boycott China's Olympics.

ByABC News
April 12, 2008, 3:23 PM

April 13, 2008— -- Former President Jimmy Carter spoke with ABC's George Stephanopoulos from Katmandu. Carter is in Nepal to observe the historic elections, and the former president will soon visit the Middle East.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: Good morning. We begin today with our exclusive headliner from Katmandu, former President Jimmy Carter.

President Carter, welcome.

I want to get to your mission to the Middle East, but first, you are in Nepal to monitor the elections that were held this week.

And you've called these elections the most transformational and profound you've ever monitored. Why?

JIMMY CARTER, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Well, this is the 70th election in which the Carter Center has been employed as monitors. And this one will totally transform the structure of a society and the political situation and military situation in Nepal.

It will be the end, for instance, of 12 years of conflict, both military and political -- a war that lasted for 10 years and cost about 13,000 lives -- and this will bring peace.

Secondly, it would transform completely the nature of the government. For 240 years, Nepal has had a Hindu kingdom -- the only one on earth. And now, it will have a democratic republic.

And the third thing I think is significant is that, for the first time, large numbers of marginalized people -- more than 50 percent of their total population -- will be guaranteed a place in the political process.

The Madhesis, who live down on the Indian border, Dalits, who are Untouchables, ethnic groups -- and particularly women. As a matter of fact, in the constituent assembly that will assemble as a result of these elections, that'll write a new constitution for Nepal, will have at least 30 percent of the seats in the constituent assembly filled by women.

So, this'll be a transformational experience in the lives of the people of Nepal.

We've been involved here now -- the Carter Center has -- for about five years, first negotiating or mediating among the royal family, the seven old political parties and the Maoists. And later, when the king was deposed -- he's in isolation now and his rule is over -- then between the Maoists and the political parties.

So, it's been a very successful election so far, reasonably quiet -- accepted (ph) the results as they come in slowly.

STEPHANOPOULOS: While you've been in Nepal, the controversy over the Olympics has been kicking up as the Olympic torch has been going around the world.

You led the boycott of the Moscow Olympics to protest what the Soviet Union was doing in Afghanistan.

Should the U.S. boycott the Olympics this year to protest China's crackdown on Tibet and its complicity with the genocide in Darfur?

CARTER: No, I don't think so at all.

That was a totally different experience in 1980, when the Soviet Union had brutally invaded and killed thousands and thousands of people, who -- in Afghanistan then. They were threatening to go further south and take over other countries.

Fifty-four nations in the world decided to boycott the Olympics. Two-thirds of the U.S. Olympic Committee, a relatively independent group, decided not to go. The Congress voted overwhelmingly not to go.

And that was a completely different situation.

But I hope that all the countries will go ahead and participate in the Olympics in Beijing.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You are on your way to the Middle East, as well, where you'll be meeting, it's been reported, with the leader of Hamas, Khaled Mashaal.

You'll be the highest-ranking American ever to meet with him. His group is labeled a terrorist organization by the United States, and the State Department advised against the meeting.