June 12, 2018 / 3:48 PM / 6 months ago

Nobel for Trump? Odds slashed after summit but awards committee may be wary

OSLO (Reuters) - It did not take long for bookmakers to slash Donald Trump’s odds of winning the Nobel Peace Prize in the wake of the historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

President Trump speaks during a news conference after his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

But before placing your bets, you may want to read what some members of the five-strong Norwegian Nobel Committee, which chooses the winner of the $1 million prize each October, have written about the U.S. president in the past.

On Tuesday, Ladbrokes cut the odds of Trump winning alone or in a joint prize this year to 6/4 from 10/1 before the summit; William Hill offered odds of 6/4 on Trump and Kim to win jointly, either in 2018 or 2019.

“Love him or loathe him, Trump has made history where others have failed,” said Jessica Bridge of Ladbrokes.

In their meeting, Trump and Kim pledged to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, and Washington committed to provide security guarantees for its old enemy.

While a Nobel award would cause consternation among Trump’s critics, he also has some high-profile supporters. South Korean President Moon Jae-in said in April that Trump deserved the prize.

Graphic of Nobel laureates: tmsnrt.rs/2y6ATVW

“IRRESPONSIBLE”

In 2015, Nobel committee member Thorbjoern Jagland, a former Norwegian prime minister who heads the Council of Europe, tweeted: “Donald Trump you may have set the news agenda but at what cost? Divisive and irresponsible from a presidential hopeful”.

Last December, he wrote: “Trump is insulting Muslims on Twitter” and by contrast praised former President Barack Obama, who won the 2009 prize, as a statesman. Jagland declined to comment on Trump’s chances after the summit.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee’s vice-chair, Henrik Syse, wrote in a blog in December, 2016, that: “President-elect Donald Trump has, with his rhetoric, lowered the threshold for moral decency so far it is downright scary.”

Syse told Reuters that his writings as a political philosopher and commentator “should in no way be read as comments pertaining to the prize or to our process in what is a five-person committee”.

Asle Toje, appointed to the committee this year, wrote an opinion piece in a Norwegian newspaper in 2017 telling Norwegians they were too negative toward Trump. His headline: “Trump is no Hitler.”

He declined to comment on Tuesday. The remaining two committee members appear not to have written publicly about Trump.

The committee’s secretary, Olav Njoelstad, said “it is not impossible” for someone who has been criticized by committee members to be considered, and even win, the prize.

DISARMAMENT

Henrik Urdal, director of the Peace Research Institute Oslo, said nuclear disarmament on the Korean peninsula “would be a very significant achievement and the committee would have to consider it” for an award.

But he told Reuters the committee would also take into account Trump’s wider record, such as pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal, planning to quit the Paris climate agreement and trade disputes with allies.

Nominations for this year’s prize also formally closed on Feb. 1, before the summit was agreed. So while Trump and Kim could be among the 330 nominees for 2018, an award linked to North Korea may be more likely in 2019.

Thousands of people are eligible to make nominations, including committee members, members of national parliaments, cabinet members, heads of universities or past laureates.

Editing by Mike Collett-White

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