pope brokers peace plan!!!

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    UN plan to give Saddam 72 hours to leave Baghdad

    Exclusive: The Pope brokers secret exile deal to avert war
    From Marion McKeone at the UN, New York

    SADDAM Hussein and his family are to be given 72 hours on Tuesday to accept an offer of exile, while 50 of Iraq's top military brass will be offered an amnesty in return for full co-operation with the United Nations in a secret plan to be tabled at its New York headquarters.
    The highly sensitive proposal was tabled by Pakistan during a closed-door meeting of the 10 non-permanent members of the Security Council on Friday and was brokered by Saudi Arabia, the Vatican and moderate Arab states. Failure by Saddam to agree to the plan would clear the way for war.

    If the proposal, understood to be in the form of a short paragraph, becomes part of a second resolution and is adopted by the Security Council, 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.

    Pope John Paul II has dispatched his emissaries to meet all the key parties during the past two weeks. His special envoy and per manent observer at the UN, Archbishop Renato Rafaele Martino, has been discussing the proposal with all the Security Council members.

    Meanwhile, Cardinal Pio Laghi, a former Papal Nuncio, met with President George W Bush, while Cardinal Angelo Sodano has met with Tony Blair. Cardinal Roger Etchegaray met with Saddam in Baghdad and discussed the subject of exile, which he said Saddam did not rule out.

    American sources have confirmed that the US and Jordan have recently discussed the prospect of using the UN to offer a formal exile and amnesty package to Saddam and his inner circle.

    Last month, Saddam rejected informal pleas to choose exile over war. But the US is aware that one of the attractions of an amendment that extends the offer to his family and military leaders is the likelihood it may trigger a coup, leading to his assassination by a member of his inner circle.

    It is thought that Saddam's sons, Uday and Qusay, would push for a safe passage out rather than face a cataclysmic end in a Baghdad bunker. 'Uday might be the first to shoot his father if he refused an amnesty,' one senior Jordan official is quoted as saying.

    The proposed amendment is still at a low rung on the UN procedural ladder but the non-permanent members believe it represents a last best chance to avert a war. But, from the Security Council's point of view, it offers a compromise that would allow its members to unite and vote for a second resolution.

    UN sources have also indicated that a second resolution on Tuesday with the March 17 ultimatum -- incorporating an offer of exile -- would provide an attractive compromise that would let the French to come on board without 'losing face' or appearing to have capitulated to the US.

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