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Red Cross Visits Saddam Hussein

Geneva, 21 February 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Officials with the International Committee of the Red Cross say they had a private visit with deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein today.

Spokeswoman Antonella Notari said the Red Cross team consisted of one Arabic speaker and a doctor. Notari, speaking from Geneva, said the team gave Hussein a physical and mental evaluation, received a message from him for his family, and requested future visits.

"We saw...Saddam Hussein, in private. We registered his identity. We offered him the possibility to write a Red Cross message to his family, which he did. He wrote a Red Cross message to members of his family," Notari said.

In accordance with Red Cross rules, no details of the visit or Hussein's location will be released to the public. The Red Cross will give a confidential report on Hussein's accommodation, food, health, and treatment to the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq.

The Red Cross had said it wanted to visit Hussein since he was captured on 13 December 2003 by the U.S. military near his hometown of Tikrit, north of Baghdad. The United States declared Hussein a war prisoner because of his status as former commander in chief of Iraq's military.