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Jordan Grants Asylum to Saddam Hussein's Daughters - 2003-08-01

The king of Jordan has granted asylum to two daughters of ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. This is not the first time the daughters have sought safety in the Jordanian kingdom.

Jordan's Information Ministry says two of Saddam Hussein's daughters arrived in the capital Thursday at the invitation of the king, Abdullah.

Jordan says the two women, Raghad and Rana, came with nine of their children and are welcome to stay in the country as long as necessary. A statement from the Jordanian royal palace says the daughters were admitted for humanitarian reasons.

The current visit is not Raghad and Rana's first time in Amman. Both defected to Jordan in 1995 with their husbands, two brothers who were members of the regime. One of the husbands, Hussein Kamel Hassan, headed Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program before his defection.

The two families voluntarily returned to Iraq the following year, but both husbands were soon after accused of treason and killed. After that, Raghad and Rana, now aged 36 and 34 respectively, were said to be estranged from Saddam.

Reports say the two had been living with their mother, Sajida, since the close of the U.S.-led war at the end of April. Sajida's whereabouts are unknown.

The arrival of the two Hussein daughters comes amid a flurry of visits to King Abdullah by high-ranking U.S. officials, military and congressional delegations.