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Annan vows to honour de Mello's dying wish

Annan vows to honour Sergio Vieira de Mello's dying wish that the UN remain in Iraq

Secretary-General Kofi Annan today paid tribute to Sergio Vieira de Mello, the senior United Nations Iraq envoy who was killed in a massive terrorist bombing earlier this week, by vowing to honour his dying wish that the UN complete its mission in the war-ravaged nation.

"His work there is left unfinished, but, please God, we shall complete it," the Secretary-General said at the funeral of the 55-year old diplomat, who was murdered along with over 20 others when a massive truck bomb exploded on Tuesday outside the UN's heaquarters at the Canal Hotel in Baghdad.

As he lay dying under the rubble of the devastated UN headquarters, the envoy told a rescue worker, "Don't let them pull the mission out."

Addressing the funeral in Mr. Vieira de Mello's hometown of Rio de Janeiro, Mr. Annan said that "Sergio, who has given his life in that cause, [should] find a fitting memorial in a free and sovereign Iraq."

The Secretary-General adamantly denounced the atrocious tactics of the terrorists who had deliberately targeted the UN. "We cannot accept that Sergio had to die at this time, in this way, or that anything good can come of it," he said. "We cannot accept that all his brilliance, his energy, his devotion to his staff and his loyalty to the ideals of the United Nations, have been so abruptly taken from us."

"Indeed," he emphasized, "we can imagine nothing more cruel, or pointless, or unjust."

Alluding to the late envoy's globe-spanning career, Mr. Annan said, "The people of Mozambique, of Lebanon, of Cambodia, of Bosnia and Herzegovina, of the Congo, of Kosovo – of many countries, on almost every continent, and perhaps most of all the people of Timor Leste – will remember him as one who was there to help them in their hour of greatest need, to relieve human suffering and to champion human rights." He added that the people of Iraq, too, would look back on Mr. Vieira de Mello with gratitude.

In an emotional closing, the Secretary-General addressed his late comrade directly. "Sergio, my friend, you have entered that Pantheon of heroes that the United Nations wishes it did not have," he said. "You will shine forever among our brightest stars."

Mr. Annan then wished for Mr. Vieira de Mello to enjoy the noble ideal he had given his life for: "May you rest in peace."


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