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UN bombing draws worldwide condemnation
( 2003-08-20 17:21) (Agencies)

Leaders around the globe denounced the suicide attack on the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad and vowed not to let the bombing deter the world body's efforts in helping rebuild Iraq.

The bombing killed at least 20 people, including the United Nations' top envoy to Iraq.

China, which opposed the invasion of Iraq, said the world body must continue its tough and complex mission to rebuild the nation.

"The process of Iraq moving toward independence and steady development will not be stopped and the U.N. mission will not be suspended either," the official Xinhua news agency quoted Chinese President Hu Jintao as saying.

Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder of Germany, which also opposed the war along with Russia and France, said "this is a criminal attack, clearly carried out by forces that do not want the rebuilding of Iraq to take place in peace and freedom."

France pledged its full support for the United Nations in Iraq.

"Acts as odious as this can only prompt indignation and unreserved condemnation," French President Jacques Chirac said in a message to Annan.

Russia, an advocate of a wider international role in Iraq, called the attack a "barbaric act" that was "aimed at undermining the already difficult process of postwar stabilization in Iraq."

President Bush, whose troops are struggling to put down armed opposition in Iraq, vowed: "The civilized world will not be intimidated."

Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair, facing criticism at home for supporting the war, said "We will not allow terrorists to weaken our resolve in bringing about a better Iraq."

The victims came from around the world including the United States, the Philippines, Egypt, Britain and Canada. Sergio Vieira de Mello of Brazil, the chief U.N. official in Iraq, was among the dead.

"Those who killed him have committed a crime, not only against the United Nations but against Iraq itself," U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan (news - web sites) said in a statement, calling Vieira de Mello "an outstanding servant of humanity."

Annan said Wednesday that the world body will not leave Iraq despite the attack.

In Australia, which sent troops to help the U.S.-led coalition oust President Saddam Hussein, Prime Minister John Howard warned the acts "will not deter the United Nations work in Iraq, it will not deter the work of the coalition forces."

Lawmakers in parliament wept over the death of Vieira de Mello, Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer choking back tears as he mourned the loss of "a good friend to us in Australia."

Pope John Paul II sent his condolences and called for those engaged in violence to "abandon the ways of hatred."

Vieira de Mello, who was in his office when the explosion ripped through the building, had gone to Iraq pledging to help Iraqis achieve "freedom, the possibility of managing their own destiny and determining their own future."

Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said he was a "victim of the insanity of terrorism," and decreed three days of official mourning for a man who was the country's most prominent international diplomat in decades.

East Timor has lost a "unique and unforgettable friend," President Xanana Gusmao said.

The U.N. envoy served as the de facto governor of East Timor from December 1999 to May 2002, following the territory's bloody break with Indonesia.

Malaysia, a vocal critic of the war, renewed its calls for a U.S. withdrawal, saying their presence was putting others at risk.

"The security threat in Iraq will remain as long as the deep rooted resentment of the people against the occupation is not dealt with in a fair and just manner," Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar said, saying interim control should be handed over to the U.N.

Egypt's foreign minister Ahmed Maher said he was "shocked" by Vieira de Mello's killing and urged the U.N. not to be deterred.

Syria and Lebanon, among the Arab countries that had fiercely opposed the U.S. invasion, expressed concern about the consequences on the United Nations, seen by many Arabs as a counterweight to U.S. power in the world.

"This criminal ... act should not influence the U.N.'s role in helping the Iraqi people restore their freedom and independence," a Syrian Foreign Ministry official told the Syrian news agency.

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