- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 15, 2003

SANAA, Yemen, Feb. 15 (UPI) — Yemen Saturday denied reports that it was chosen as providing asylum to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in the event of a U.S. war on Iraq in the next few weeks.

A Yemeni official told United Press International on condition of anonymity, "The subject of asylum to the Iraqi president has not been discussed with Iraqi officials, or the Americans, as alleged."

The official described the reports in the Turkish press as "mere fabrications without any basis."

A Turkish newspaper on Friday quoted a Turkish official as saying that Saddam "may go to Yemen because Washington refuses his exile to a country neighboring Iraq."

The Turkish official, who was not named, said that as the United States "prepares for a full-fledged war, it is also exerting psychological pressure on Saddam Hussein to leave Iraq."

He said the possibility of the Iraqi president's departure from Baghdad to Yemen was "one of the reasons the Turkish government is reluctant to submit a memorandum to Parliament for allowing foreign military deployments" in the country.

The Turkish paper quoted the official as citing two choices with the start of a war regarding the fate of Saddam: Either for the United States to topple him, or for him to agree at the last moment to leave Iraq and head to Yemen.

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