TRIPOLI - Libya dismissed as 'fiction' a British newspaper report that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein plans to pay Tripoli billions of dollars in return for political asylum for his family and senior members of his regime in the event of any US-led war.
'This information is completely unfounded and is aimed at tarnishing Libya's image,' Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassuna Shawush said on Saturday, commenting on the report in The Times.
'This is fabricated information, it is fiction,' he added, denying that the subject was discussed during talks between Iraqi envoy Ali Hassan al-Majid and Libyan leaders on Sept 8.
General Majid came to Tripoli solely 'to explain developments' concerning the US threats to strike Iraq, Mr Shawush said.
The Times said the deal, which would also cover an internal coup d'etat, would see the Iraqi leader pay US$3.5 billion (S$6.17 billion) for safe haven for his family and about a dozen senior officials of the Baghdad regime and their families.
The deal does not include plans to provide refuge to Mr Saddam or his eldest son Uday, according to The Times.
It said diplomatic sources in Tripoli had told the paper that the Iraqi leader's secret emissaries had visited Libya and Syria to discuss an escape route.
The Times said any deal to provide refuge to Mr Saddam or Mr Uday would lead to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi coming under international pressure to hand them over for war crimes trials.
It quoted unnamed Western intelligence sources as saying that individual members of Baghdad's Ba'ath Party were known to be looking to take refuge in North African countries, but Libya made more sense because many North African states were friendly towards the West and might hand them over. --AFP