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Sergio Vieira de Mello Honored in Brazil - 2003-08-23

United Nations envoy to Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, was honored during a memorial ceremony in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday after his body was flown back aboard a Brazilian military aircraft. Mr. Vieira de Mello was among those killed in a truck bomb attack Tuesday that destroyed part of the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and United Nations Secretary- General Kofi Annan were among a throng of dignitaries who attended Saturday's memorial service at the municipal palace in Rio de Janeiro.

The mourners gathered around Sergio Vieira de Mello's coffin, draped with the Brazilian flag, and individually hugged the fallen diplomat's 86-year-old mother, offering their condolences.

President Lula da Silva described his slain countryman and colleague as an intelligent man of conviction who fought for a better world, a world of peace.

For his part, Kofi Annan said Sergio Vieira de Mello would shine forever as one of the United Nation's brightest stars, someone who relieved human suffering and championed human rights. He predicted the people of Iraq would remember him with gratitude.

Shortly before the memorial service, the secretary-general noted that Mr. Vieira de Mello's dying wish was for the United Nation's work to continue in Iraq.

"I have come to mourn my close friend and colleague Sergio de Mello: a man of peace, a man who has given so much to the world and yet [who has] been taken from us in such a senseless, savage way," said Kofi Annan. "We will continue the work he started [in Iraq], and I think that is the best way to honor his memory and what he stood for."

From Brazil, Mr. Vieira de Mello's body will be flown to France for burial.