Mother Teresa has appealed to President Bush and Iraqi President Saddadm Hussein to make efforts to avoid a war in the Persian Gulf, news agencies said Saturday.

"I come to you with tears and God's love to plead for the poor and those who will become poor if the war we all dread happens," United News of India reported the 80-year-old Nobel laureate and missionary as saying.Mother Teresa said the military strength of the two countries could "destroy God's presence, his image and children," and that the two presidents "have the power to bring war into the world or to build peace."

She said in her plea that she had "prayed on bended knees" to save those who would be killed, widowed and disabled if war breaks out. "The whole world is praying that you will open your hearts in love," Press Trust of India quoted Mother Teresa as saying.

Mother Teresa, born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, in Albania, became a Jesuit - known for their strict discipline and devotion to God - after 18 years as a nun in a primarily educational mission.