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Goff condemns attack on UN in Baghdad

Goff condemns attack on UN in Baghdad

Foreign Minister Phil Goff today condemned the bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad that has killed at least 20 people and injured over 100.

"This attack is a tragedy for the United Nations and the families of those killed and injured by it," Mr Goff said.

"I express my condolences in particular to the family of Sergio Vieira de Mello, who I have known and worked with over the last three years.

"Sergio was one of the United Nations' most able people. He was the most senior UN official to be killed in the line of duty in over 40 years, and had served as the Secretary General's special representative in some of the most difficult areas of the world.

"Sergio was UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and was due shortly to return to that role after a four-month secondment to head the UN office in Baghdad.

"As well as working in Iraq, Sergio represented the United Nations in Kosovo and in East Timor.

"Those New Zealanders who worked with him in East Timor respected him deeply for his integrity, competence and ability. He played an enormous role in East Timor's successful transition to independence and democracy.

"The United Nations has lost one of its best representatives, and a man who could easily have risen to the office of Secretary General in coming years.

''New Zealand extends its sympathy to all families who have suffered bereavement and to those, including New Zealander Major Todd Hart, who have been injured in the bombing.

"I am informed that Major Hart has been transferred to an American military hospital where his injuries are being treated.

"The tragedy represented by this bombing must not be allowed to stand in the way of the United Nations continuing to carry out its vital humanitarian role in Iraq. It also has a central role to play in assisting the transition to stability and normalisation.

"The perpetrators of this attack may have intended to deflect the UN from its efforts. It must instead increase the UN's resolve to carry out that task, which will represent a defeat for those who have used terror against it.

The United Nations represents the best chance for achieving a peaceful and stable world, and has New Zealand's full support in its efforts," Mr Goff said.

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