An American citizen who e-mailed Saddam Hussein received a letter of condolence from the Iraqi president, Fox News reported Saturday.
In the letter, Saddam offered his personal condolences for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks against the United States – the first time Saddam has publicly expressed any such sentiments – but said he would not offer his condolences to President Bush until Bush apologized for the deaths of 1.5 million Iraqis
Saddam blames the deaths on the United Nations' 11-year sanctions against Iraq. Baghdad said the U.S. is behind keeping the sanctions in place.
The letter, described by the Reuters news service as a "traditional Iraqi message of condolence," was sent to Christopher Love, an American who e-mailed Hussein after the attacks, Iraqi officials said.
"We are belonging to God and to Him we are returning and may God protect your life as we Muslims say to anyone who loses somebody dear to him," Saddam wrote.
Love had sent an e-mail to Saddam calling on him to speak to Bush and resolve differences. No details on Love were immediately available.
Iraqi officials put out a copy of the letter Saturday. Prior to the letter, Hussein had not joined other world leaders in condemning the attacks that killed more than 5,000 people. Iraq has claimed to have sent private condolences to individual Americans sympathetic with Baghdad.
Love's email had asked Saddam to make peace with Bush. "Mr President, please for the sake of humanity, please contact George W. Bush. Tell him why you are angry. I hope for all of our sakes he will listen with compassion and understanding, as I believe he will.
"How much it would mean to this world right now if you were to put aside your differences and side with the world, not just the U.S."
Saddam said in his reply: "I do not think your administration deserves that Iraqis condole with it on what happened, unless it condoles with the Iraqi people on the death of one and half million Iraqis who it killed."
He said he did not know who was behind the Sept. 11 attacks and said the U.S. had not produced enough evidence to prove Usama bin Laden was the mastermind.
The U.S. includes Iraq in a list of states it believes sponsors terrorism. Saddam has denied any connection with bin Laden.
Though the U.S. has said they do not have hard evidence linking Iraq to the Sept. 11 attacks, some lawmakers support attacking Iraq as part of the current military effort.
In his letter, Saddam also said U.S. warplanes, enforcing no-fly zones in northern and southern Iraq, had killed several Iraqis.
U.S. and British warplanes patrol no-fly zones in southern and northern Iraq to protect Shi'ite Muslims in the south and a Kurdish enclave in the north from possible attacks by Baghdad's troops.