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Annan Condemns Killing Of Iraqi GC President


New York, May 17 2004 5:00PM

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today condemned the assassination of the President of the Iraqi Governing Council, Ezz El-Din Salim, and vowed not to let the attack deter the UN from helping the country with the political transition at the end of June.

The Secretary-General learned with "shock and dismay" of Mr. Salim's assassination this morning in Baghdad, said Mr. Annan's spokesman, Fred Eckhard. "The Secretary-General strongly condemns this tragic and criminal act. It is a bad day for the people of Iraq and all those striving to help them," he said.

"In the critical days leading up to the restoration of Iraq's sovereignty on 30 June, it is all the more important for the Iraqi people to resolve peacefully their differences and rally together in a spirit of unity and dialogue to build the foundations of a new Iraq," he said.

"Despite this tragic incident, which has robbed Iraq of an illustrious citizen, the United Nations remains committed to assist the Iraqi people in the transitional political process. On this sad and painful occasion, the Secretary-General extends his condolences to Mr. Salim's family as well as to the Iraqi people," Mr. Eckhard said.

Speaking to reporters this morning, the Secretary-General said he hoped the culprits would be apprehended, and that the assassination would not disrupt the work being done by the team led by his Special Adviser, Lakhdar Brahimi.

"We are doing our best to go ahead, and I urge the Iraqi political leaders, and the Iraqi population, to go ahead with the formation of a government and the search for stability in their country," Mr. Annan said.

"Obviously there are elements on the ground who are against the process, who do not want it to succeed, and I think this is also one more reason for those who are determined to stabilize Iraq, and for the Iraqis who want to redeem their sovereignty and get on with their lives, to play an important role and not allow the elements that are determined to derail the process to succeed," he added.

Asked if the killing was also a signal that the UN was a target as well, he replied: "I do not want to read too much into it, as if it was a message for anyone else, but I think it was tragic that Salim was killed."

In Geneva the Acting UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Bertrand Ramcharan in a statement condemned the killing as "as another act of terrorism by people who have no regard for life or any other human right."

2004-05-17 00:00:00.000

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