Pope John Paul II sent a congratulatory message to President Saddam Hussein on Iraq's national day, the official news agency INA reported on Wednesday.
"I send you my greetings and pray that God grants all the best to the Iraqi people," the pontiff said, according to INA.
Iraq on Monday celebrated the 32nd anniversary of the coup that brought Saddam's Baath party to power.
In December 1999, Baghdad asked the pope to postpone a planned visit due to the UN embargo and the no-fly zones which US and British warplanes have enforced over Iraq since the 1991 Gulf War.
The pope, who worked to avert the conflict over Kuwait and has spoken out against economic sanctions, planned a visit last January to Ur, an ancient city in southern Iraq believed to have been the home of the prophet Ibrahim - BAGHDAD (AFP)
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