Former US President Jimmy Carter labelled Europe's failure to help Palestinians as "embarrassing", during a speech at the Hay-on-Wye Festival on Sunday. Shahid Naqvi was among the invited audience to hear the Nobel Peace Prize winner.
A waterlogged field in Wales does not seem the most likely location to talk world politics.
Such is the status of the annual Guardian Hay-on-Wye festival however that it attracts the most prominent of people.
This year, it was the turn of Jimmy Carter, the Nobel Prize-winning former president of the USA who is now one of the most respected figures in the Middle East peace process.
Admittedly, the 82-year-old had a book to promote and Hay-on-Wye is a literary festival of some repute. Nevertheless, the silver-haired elder statesman did cut a somewhat incongruous figure amid the army of middle Englanders in their wellies and rain macs.
The world's most famous peanut farmer was scheduled to deliver a £50-a-head lecture on conflict resolution and human rights at the annual literary event.
Before that, he addressed about 100 invited guests including The Birmingham Post in a hall at Gwernyfed High School, near Hay-on-Wye.
An unpopular figure among many Americans, Mr Carter's stance on the Middle East is decidedly pro-Palestinian.
"One of the greatest human rights crimes on Earth is the imprisonment and starvation of 1.6 million people within Gaza," he told his audience.
"There is no reason to treat these people this way. The UN High Commission on Food last year said most of the families living inside Gaza are eating one meal a day.
"Their calorie intake is lower than people living in sub-Saharan Africa."
Asked what Britain and the European Union should be doing to aid the Middle East peace process, President Carter said: "They should be doing what I'm doing.
"They should be encouraging the formation of a unity government that includes Hamas and Fatah. They should be encouraging Hamas to have a ceasefire in Gaza alone, as a first step.
"They should be encouraging Israel and Hamas to reach an agreement in prisoner exchange and, as a second step, Israel should agree to a ceasefire in the West Bank, which is Palestinian territory."
He added: "I think the Europeans should work towards these goals."
According to Mr Carter, there is a willingness within the Palestinian community to be accommodating to Israel, coupled with a sense of hopelessness, fear and frustration that results in violence.
He said it was regrettable that Gaza's elected government Hamas was holding one Israeli prisoner but that paled into insignificance compared with the 11,600 prisoners held by Israel.
As a religious man, Mr Carter believes his faith is something that can help in negotiations in the Middle East, an area where religion and politics are inseparable.
During his presidency between 1977 and 1981 his biggest achievement was the brokering of peace between Israel's then prime minister Menachem Begin and Egypt's leader Anwar Sadat, both of whom he described as deeply religious.
"Their religious faith, combined to a lesser extent with mine, was a great incentive for peace," he said.
Mr Carter remains optimistic for a peaceful resolution between Israel and Palestine, saying of the Middle East peace process: "It's not a hopeless cause."
He said: "The problem with Israel that is the most substantial obstacle to peace is the people who want Palestinian land.
"You have to have a very strong prime minister and the backing of the majority of Israeli people who are ready to see a two-state solution."
The former president also believes a solution to the problems in Iraq is possible and said a deadline must be set for withdrawal of US and British troops.
"I am not sure if it should be one year or five years. The essence of it is to let the world know and particularly Iraqis that by the end of this period we will be out."
Mr Carter has suffered criticism in his own country for his handling of the 1979 hostage crisis in Iran following the takeover by the hardline Islamist cleric Ayatollah Khomeini.
He doggedly pursued a path of negotiation and diplomacy with the new administration which even involved drafting in boxing legend Muhammad Ali.
A failed rescue attempt was eventually launched and Carter went on to lose the presidency two years later to the Republican Ronald Reagan.
Nevertheless, his faith in diplomacy and talk instead of resorting to arms remains unshakeable, as is evident in his views on Iran's nuclear ambitions.
"The US has more than 12,000 nuclear weapons," he said. "The former Soviet Union has about the same. The UK and France have several hundred. Israel has 150 or more.
"Say three years in the future Iran announces it has a nuclear weapon.
"If it does I think we have to depend to some degree that the Iranian people are rational human beings. They have just as much sense as we have. Would they commit suicide and destroy their state completely?
"My guess is they would not. But to prevent that happening we need to discuss with Iran now. Let them know the benefits and detriment for them continuing with their nuclear programme."
And as for the heavy rain that lashed central England and Wales on Sunday for the former leader of the world's most powerful nation it was no problem. "I hope it's raining like this on my farm at home," he quipped.