Philadelphia - A Pennsylvania man who wanted to promote co-operation between Iraq and the United States in the wake of the September 11 attacks apparently has a new pen pal in Saddam Hussein.

The Philadelphia Inquirer on Monday quoted Christopher Love, 43, from suburban Philadelphia, as saying he had emailed the Iraqi president in September while grief-stricken over the plane attacks that destroyed the World Trade Centre, damaged the Pentagon and killed over 5 400 people.

Love called on Saddam to set aside his differences with Washington and join a US-led coalition against "terrorism, hunger and strife in every country".

Never did he expect a response. Iraq has been at odds with the United States since before the 1991 Gulf War, which ended with Baghdad's defeat and the imposition of no-fly zones over Iraq that are patrolled by US military planes.

But on October 18, Love says he found a message purporting to be from Saddam himself in his email basket. "My jaw kind of dropped," Love told the newspaper. "I was extremely shocked."

The software engineer called the message "a warm and genuine response" that expressed condolences for the victims of the attacks and voiced the blessing: "God has created us and to Him we return. May God give you a long life."

Love, whom Saddam described as a "brother in the family of mankind," planned to write back to the Iraqi president on Monday and say "thank you for your gracious response."

Love said he sent his original email to the Iraqi News Agency, which agreed to pass it on to Saddam. - Reuters