Iraqi president meets Papal envoy Etchegaray


Saddam Hussein today met a special envoy of Pope John Paul II as part of international efforts to resolve the Iraq crisis peacefully.

Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, who arrived on Tuesday, delivered a letter from the pontiff, who has been outspoken in his opposition to a US-led attack against Iraq.

Following the 90-minute meeting, the cardinal refused to discuss details of his talks with Saddam or the contents of the pope's letter.

"I asked whether all that can be done to guarantee peace has been ... so that Iraq can resume its place in the international community," Cardinal Etchegaray said. He did not reveal how Saddam responded.

Cardinal Etchegaray has represented the pope in other troublespots, including the Middle East, where he tried to help end the stand-off last year between Israeli forces and Palestinian gunmen holed up in Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity.