Straw pays tribute to murdered Iraqi council member

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has praised murdered Iraqi governing council member Dr Akila al Hashimi as a leading player in "the rebirth of Iraq".

Dr Hashimi died earlier today following a gun attack near her home last week.

The Foreign Secretary said it was "desperately sad news" for Dr Hashimi's family and friends, and for all striving to make a better future for Iraq.

"Many will share my sorrow and anger at this brutal murder," he said. "I met Dr Hashimi in London on her way back from New York, where she was part of the first governing council delegation to take its place in the United Nations."

"Dr Hashimi played a leading role in the rebirth of Iraq. I make this promise especially to the family and friends of Dr Hashimi, and to all in Iraq. We will not be deterred from our overall goal by terrorists and criminals. We will hand sovereignty to the Iraqi people as soon as possible in conditions where they can build a secure and prosperous country. Dr Hashimi will have contributed in no small measure to that outcome."

The UN Secretary-General has also expressed his sadness at the death of Dr al-Hashemi.

Kofi Annan said that such "murderous use of violence [was] wholly inexcusable", and likely only to retard the process of establishing a government in Iraq. He extended his sincere condolences to Dr Hashemi’s family, and to the governing council.


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