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20 Aug 2013

UNAMI - Visiting UN political chief honours fallen colleagues, meets Iraqi leadership

Baghdad, 19 August 2013 – Wrapping up a two-day visit to Iraq, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman today participated in a ceremony in Baghdad marking the 10th anniversary of the 2003 Canal Hotel bombing, one of the most devastating attacks in the history of the United Nations.

“Ten years ago, 22 cherished United Nations staff members and colleagues perished in a horrific attack that still reverberates in our hearts and in our memory,” said Mr. Feltman.  Yet the United Nations’ resolve was not shaken and its commitment to Iraq remains strong, he added: “Our ongoing work today here in Iraq is the best possible tribute to those who perished ten years ago.”

The memorial service in Baghdad, which included a tree planting and a minute of silence,  is one of many events marking World Humanitarian Day, in remembrance of the aid workers who have lost their lives in the line of duty.  In New York, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon presides over a memorial ceremony, while UN colleagues around the world engage in various campaigns.
In Iraq, USG Feltman noted that, 10 years after the Baghdad bombings, the country is at another crossroads.  Pointing to the daily acts of terrorism and the sectarian violence the country is facing, he condemned the recent attacks that struck the country and expressed the solidarity of the United Nations with the Iraqi people. He added that “Iraq’s political leaders have a clear responsibility to leave no space to those who seek to exploit the political stalemate through violence and terror, and undermine a democratic Iraq.”  
That was one of Mr. Feltman’s key messages in his meetings with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Speaker Osama Al-Nujaifi, Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlak, Foreign Affairs Minister Hoshyar Zebari, and other members of the Iraqi leadership. Mr. Feltman also took the opportunity to discuss with his Iraqi interlocutors regional developments.
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