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Bahrain offers exile to Saddam

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MANAMA, Bahrain (CNN) -- Bahrain's king has offered "safe exile" to Saddam Hussein, saying he hopes the Iraqi leader "would seriously consider this offer before the onset of war," the government-run Bahrain News Agency said Wednesday.

Bahrain's palace, the seat of government, confirmed the offer, according to Bahrain TV.

King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa "announced that Bahrain is willing to accommodate Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, if he wishes to reside here, with dignity and without disgrace to Iraq."

The king said that Bahrain's initiative "comes as part of its nationalistic responsibilities, towards ensuring security and stability in the region, in order to avoid war on Iraq and its people."

The offer came during the Cabinet's "extraordinary emergency session," when the king was asked "what would be a solution to avert war and destruction."

The king said that "in order to avoid war and destruction, the Iraqi president must relinquish his authority to parties capable of finding a solution to the situation, and secure Iraq's honor and dignity."

Bahrain did not initiate formal diplomatic contact to extend the offer.

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