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Leaders condemn Salim killing


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(CNN) -- Iraq's foreign minister has vowed not to be intimidated as leaders around the world expressed sorrow and anger over the killing of the U.S.-appointed president of the Iraqi Governing Council in an apparent suicide bombing in Baghdad.

Council president Izzedine Salim was on his way into the Green Zone, which houses coalition headquarters, when he was killed in the blast, along with at least four others.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari described the attacks as an attempt to derail the political process and said it would not stop preparations for the handover of sovereignty on June 30.

"We will not be intimidated," he said.

President Bush said: "Mr. Salim was a man of courage who risked his life in pursuit of a free, democratic, and prosperous Iraq.

"The terrorists know that a free Iraq will be a major defeat for the cause of terror, so they are trying to shake our confidence and will."

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the bombing was a terrorist act aimed at disrupting the transfer of power.

"What this shows is that the terrorists and insurgents in Iraq are trying to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power from the occupiers to the Iraqi people," Straw said.

"These terrorists are the enemies of the Iraqi people themselves."

British Prime Minister Tony Blair's office also condemned the killing, saying that Saleem and his colleagues had been working "to give Iraq a future of freedom, democracy and security, all of which are goals rejected by the terrorists."

French President Jacques Chirac said on Monday he was angered by the attack. "I am appalled by this wave of tragedies in Iraq and am just as convinced as ever that there is no military solution, and that a political solution is needed," Reuters quoted Chirac as saying during a visit outside Paris.

"I hope it will be found through a transfer of sovereignty and authority, as quickly as possible, to a truly Iraqi government."

Jordan also condemned the killing.

"Jordan has always condemned political assassinations and the targeting of civilians," State Minister and official government spokesperson Asma Khader said.

"Resorting to assassinations for achieving political ends is inadmissible, and such operations should come to an end," she added.

'Disturbing signal'

Australia's Prime Minister John Howard said the killing showed why Australian troops should remain in Iraq.

"I am horrified ... This is not the killing of an American or an Englishman, it's the killing of one of their own and what these people are about is preventing Iraq having a democratic future," Howard told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.

"Are we going to give in to that? Are we going to walk away? Are we going to say that if you murder, and kill and bomb people enough we're going to turn our backs and walk away?" he said.

"This is what those saying we should leave are in effect advocating.

Australia currently has about 850 troops in and around Iraq.

A senior Russia official said the murder of Salim sent "another very disturbing signal about the need to re-think the basic plan for a settlement in Iraq."

Deputy Foreing Minister Yuri Fedotov told Interfax news agency that the settlement must be "transparent" and most importantly, "have the understanding and support of the Iraqi people."

The formation of a new Iraqi government, Fedotov said, must meet the interests of a broad layers of the Iraqi population and also be legitimate in the eyes of the international public, primarily Iraq's neighbors.

Only in that case can new Iraqi insitutions count on the support of Iraqi nationals and efficiently resolve pressing problems in the country. The deputy Russian foreign minister also expressed Moscow's regret about the murder of the Iraqi Council chief.


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