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Saddam tells envoy that Pope must tackle religious bias

President Saddam Hussein of Iraq has urged Pope John Paul II to address the "racial and religious discrimination" which has made his country a target of possible military action, state television reported.

The Iraqi leader told a special Vatican envoy that Iraqis were being singled out because they were Muslim and that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction.

The envoy, Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, met the Iraqi leader for 90 minutes in Baghdad delivering a message from the Pope.

The cardinal said Saddam Hussein had been relieved by Friday's report to the United Nations by the chief weapons inspectors.

"He [Saddam Hussein] is doing everything to avoid war," Cardinal Etchegaray told Italian television, according to French news agency AFP.


Pope [sic] meets with Saddam Hussein (AP)
Papal Envoy Meets with Saddam Hussein (ThisDay)
Vatican anti-war activity increases with visit to Iraq (John L Allen, National Catholic Reporter)
Cardinal Tucci Points to Apostolic Letter [responsible for Iraq blocking proposal papal visit in 1998] (Zenit)
Baghdad, Cardinal Etchegaray asks Saddam Hussein for peace guarantees (MISNA)
Pope's envoy leads Iraqi Catholics in peace Mass (14/2/03)
Analysis: Vatican Sends Message To Saddam Hussein, Plans To Host Iraqi Foreign Ministers (transcript of interview with National Catholic Reporter's John Allen, US National Public Radio)
Iraq: Pope Joins Diplomatic Efforts As War Looms (Radio Free Europe)
Pope strives to avoid Muslim-Christian divide (AFP)

17 Feb 2003