LONDON, Dec. 6, 2001, (AP)--American evangelist Billy Graham will receive an honorary knighthood for his ``truly international'' contribution to religious life, Britain's Foreign Office announced Thursday.

Graham, 83, was to be knighted Thursday evening in Washington by the British ambassador to the United States, Sir Christopher Meyer, on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II.

The rare honor was being given for Billy Graham's ``huge and truly international contribution to civic and religious life over 60 years,'' a Foreign Office spokeswoman said with customary anonymity.

Graham has preached to millions of people in more than 185 countries in his long career as an evangelist, and has acted as confidant to U.S. presidents. Now suffering from Parkinson's disease, he spends most of his time at his mountain retreat in North Carolina.

The award, Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire, is made to foreign nationals. Holders are not called Sir, but are entitled to have the letters KBE after their name.

Past recipients of honorary knighthoods include Ronald Reagan, Bob Hope, Steven Spielberg, Colin Powell and Andre Previn.

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