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Pope Francis again a top contender for the Nobel Peace Prize

ROME — With the Nobel Peace Prize committee set to announce its 2015 winner on Friday, Pope Francis is once again seen as a front-runner, a status reinforced by his role in brokering a deal for the normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba last December.

While the world may be waiting to see whether the pontiff prevails, Francis is already on record as saying he’s not interested in such honors. He points to candidates he believes are more deserving: the women of Paraguay, whom he credits with “saving the country” during the bloody 19th-century War of the Triple Alliance.

The Nobel Peace Prize Committee will reveal the winner at a news conference in Oslo, Norway, at 5 a.m. Eastern time, 11 a.m. Central European Time.

Although the committee does not issue a formal list of candidates, other top contenders this year are believed to include German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US Secretary of State John Kerry, along with Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, the principal figures behind a deal on Iran’s nuclear program.

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