Peace Still Possible in and for Iraq, Says Cardinal Etchegaray

But No One Must Relax, He Cautions

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 17, 2003 ( Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, John Paul II’s special envoy to Iraq, says that «peace is still possible in Iraq and for Iraq.»

In a statement to reporters in Baghdad on Sunday, before his return to Rome, the cardinal said that «a small clearing seems to be opening between the great black clouds that hang over us at this time.»

«But no one must relax,» he cautioned. «The new and brief respite that has taken place must be used full time by all in a spirit of reciprocal trust, to respond to the demands of the international community. The smallest step over the next few days is worth a great leap toward peace.»

Commenting on his meeting Saturday with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, the cardinal said that «he manifested a long and profound hearing of the living word that comes from God and that every believer, descendent of Abraham, accepts as the surest ferment for peace.»

«As I leave this land [which is] unjustly isolated from others, I would like to be something more than the echo, I would like to be the loudspeaker of the aspiration of a country in urgent need of peace,» the cardinal said.

«Yes, peace is still possible in Iraq and for Iraq,» he said. «I return to Rome, crying out for it more loudly than ever.»

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