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Jordan offers asylum to two of Saddam's daughters
( 2003-08-01 09:54) (Agencies)

Two of Saddam Hussein's daughters whose husbands were killed on the orders of the toppled Iraqi president arrived in Jordan Thursday and were offered asylum by King Abdullah, officials said.

Saddam Hussein's family (Lto R): daughter Hala, first wife Sajda Kher Ala, daughters Rana and Raghd, and several grandchildren pose in an undated photo from the private archive of an official photographer for the regime. Jordan's King Abdullah has offered asylum to Rana and Raghd on humanitarian grounds, a palace official said on July 31, 2003. [Reuters]
Since the end of the U.S.-led war in April that ousted Saddam, the two had been in hiding with their mother Sajida under close tribal protection, Iraqi exile sources in Amman said.

Information Minister Nabil al-Sharif told Reuters the king issued an order admitting Raghd, 36, and Rana, 34, on their arrival from Baghdad.

"They arrived this evening and they are his majesty's guests for purely humanitarian reasons," Sharif said, adding that they were accompanied by their nine children.

"I have no knowledge they are heading to any other destination," Sharif said.

Their late husbands were Lieutenant General Hussein Kamel, who headed Iraq's nuclear, chemical, biological and missile programs for 10 years, and his brother Saddam Kamel.

The two men defected to Jordan in 1995 and announced plans to work to overthrow Saddam, but later decided to return to Baghdad in 1996. They were accused by Saddam's government of giving information about Iraq's weapons to the West and killed.

A Jordanian cabinet minister, who requested anonymity, said the daughters would be free to stay in Amman or leave to go to any country of their choice.

A palace official said the asylum offer by the pro-Western monarch was a traditional gesture of Arab hospitality.

The Iraqi exile sources said Raghd and Rana had sought refuge without success in Britain and the United Arab Emirates in recent weeks.

Some relatives of leaders of Iraq's former ruling Baath party have found refuge in Amman in recent months, including the family of former Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz, officials say privately.

Saddam's third and favored daughter Hala is still in Iraq. Her husband General Jamal Mustafa Tikriti was arrested after the fall of Saddam on April 9.

The whereabouts of Saddam's first wife in Iraq is unknown.

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