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Annan Vows UN Will Stay in Iraq - 2003-08-20

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has vowed that U.N. staff will remain in Iraq despite the bombing at the organization's headquarters in Baghdad that killed at least 17 people, including the top UN envoy.

The United Nations leader says the message about the U.N. presence in Iraq is clear. "We will persevere," he stressed. "We will continue our work. It's essential work. And we are not going to be intimidated."

Secretary-General Annan says he is mourning those killed in Tuesday's truck bombing, including the top United Nations envoy in Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, whom he described as our brightest and best.

Mr. Annan told reporters in Stockholm, Sweden, that the deaths shall not be in vain.

Mr. Annan says the United Nations has been in Iraq for 12 years but, until now, had never been attacked, and a review of the security situation is under way.

He questioned why the situation remains insecure months after the defeat of Saddam Hussein's government. He says there were hopes that by now, coalition forces would have secured the environment.

But Mr. Annan also conceded the difficulty of the situation. "Obviously, when you look at Iraq ... the occupying power is responsible for law and order and security of the country," said Mr. Annan. "But when you have this kind of terrorist attack you never know where it is going to come from, and I'm not sure if one can entirely protect against it."

The secretary-general says that while some mistakes may have been made, this does not excuse senseless violence and targeting innocent civilians. He says most Iraqi people want to get on with their lives, and rebuilding a nation after a conflict is extremely difficult and complex.