Alleged Saddam letter calls Iraqis to rise up

Thursday, May 1, 2003

CAIRO, Egypt -- A purported letter from Saddam Hussein published Wednesday in an Arabic-language newspaper in London urges Iraqis to "rise up" against occupation.

Al-Quds Al-Arabi, which has taken a pro-Saddam editorial line and blamed the Iraqi people for the toppling of the Iraqi leader, did not say how it obtained the letter attributed to Saddam, a copy of which was published on page 3.

To reporters familiar with other documents attributed to Saddam, neither the handwriting nor the signature appeared similar, but Al-Quds Al-Arabi said "sources close to Saddam" confirmed both were genuine.

In Washington, U.S. officials reacted with skepticism to the letter but declined to comment further.

The paper said the sources could not disclose more details "due to security considerations and circumstances surrounding his whereabouts."

Pope resumes foreign travel with trip to Spain

VATICAN CITY -- Pope John Paul II is making a whirlwind visit to Spain this weekend to meet with young people and proclaim five new saints, testing his frail health before a season of ambitious travel plans.

The pope, who turns 83 in three weeks, is resuming travel abroad after a nine-month pause. Though burdened by health problems, he has appeared stronger in recent weeks.

On Wednesday, he greeted pilgrims at his general audience in St. Peter's Square in a loud and clear voice, speaking of the ideal characteristics of a political ruler.

"The ruler's personal life is marked by moral integrity, while his public activity reflects a resolute commitment to combating every form of injustice in society," John Paul said.

Libya's Lockerbie claims make British skeptical

LONDON -- The British government and families of victims of Pan Am Flight 103 responded cautiously Wednesday to Libya's claims that it has accepted "civil responsibility" for the 1988 explosion over Lockerbie, Scotland, and is willing to pay $2.7 billion in compensation.

Libya's Foreign Minister Abdel-Rahman Shalqam said on Tuesday that the families of each of the 270 victims will receive $10 million in three installments in return for the lifting of U.N. and U.S. sanctions and Washington's removal of Libya from its list of states sponsoring terrorism.

A spokesman for the families of many British victims said they had heard nothing new from their attorneys regarding the compensation deal.

Britain's Foreign Office said it has received no official confirmation of Libya's offer.

Greenpeace plays out nuclear cards at meeting

GENEVA -- In a play on the deck of cards distributed to U.S. troops in Iraq, anti-nuclear campaigners on Wednesday issued their own most-wanted list -- with President Bush replacing Saddam Hussein as the ace of spades.

"It's an exact copy in terms of the design and layout," said William Peden, spokesman for the disarmament campaign at Greenpeace.

But while the U.S. cards were meant to help soldiers capture America's most-wanted Iraqi leaders, the Greenpeace deck is meant to focus attention on the dangers posed by nuclear arsenals, Peden told The Associated Press.

Campaigners are handing out 600 decks to delegates at a two-week meeting on the 1968 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

--From wire reports

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