Pope brokering deal for Saddam exile
Vatican officials have confirmed that Pope John Paul II, in addition to praying daily for peace in the Middle East, is trying to broker a deal to have Saddam Hussein accept exile and this avoid an Iraq-United States war.
"God willing, war may still be averted, even at this apparently late hour," one Vatican official told us. "We are still hopeful..."
According to the proposal, Saddam Hussein and his family are to be given 72 hours from today (Tuesday 11 March) to accept an offer of exile.
At the same time, several dozen of Iraq's top military leaders will be offered an amnesty in return for full co-operation with the United Nations, the still-secret plan proposes, according to published reports.
The proposal, brokered by the Vatican with Saudi Arabia and moderate Arab states, was evidently tabled by Pakistan during a closed-door meeting of the 10 non-permanent members of the Security Council on Friday.
Marion McKeone of the Glasgow Sunday Herald reported on Sunday from the UN in New York City that the proposal, in the form of a short paragraph, could become part of a second resolution of the Security Council.
Under its terms, the UN would oversee the establishment of a post-Saddam government and the UN, not the US, would take stewardship of Iraq's oilfields.
The Iraqi generals and top ranking officers would have to co-operate fully with UN inspectors to oversee the total elimination of any weapons of mass destruction, McKeone writes.
Inside the Vatican comments that it is impossible to say whther this proposal has any chance of being accepted.
"But it is certain that Pope John Paul II has been sending his emissaries on repeated missions to all the key parties during the past six weeks, sas well as receiving key leaders at the Vatican on almost a daily basis."
Inside the Vatican
UN plan to give Saddam 72 hours to leave Baghdad (Sunday Herald)
Pope as Broker in Plan Offering Exile for Saddam (Catholic World News)
Iraq crisis: Vatican diplomat [Archbishop Renato Martino] urges UN to 'choose life' (Independent Catholic News)
Forces' bishop tells soldiers Iraq war may be morally just (The Universe)
11 Mar 2003