Foreign Minister Zebari said he too has been targeted for attack a number
of times - while riding in his convoy and even in his office at the foreign
ministry. He said the attacks are the work of those who stand against a free
and democratic Iraq and who want, instead, an Iraq based on fear and violence.
Mr. Salim, a Shiite Muslim from the southern city of Basra, held the rotating
chairmanship of Iraq's Interim Governing Council. He was a long-time member of
the Iraqi opposition.
He was killed along with several other people, including his deputy, in a
bomb explosion in central Baghdad, near the heavily guarded Council and coalition
Mr. Salim's successor as head of the Iraqi Governing Council, Ghazi Mashal
Ajil al-Yawer, called the killing a great tragedy that affected all Iraqis. "With
this terrorist act, vile act and cowardly act, against this man whose positions
were very moderate and brave, it is a great loss to our people and their aspirations.
But the brothers of murdered Salim and the children of our country and the
[Governing Council] will not retreat from the march for which he devoted all
of his life, the march toward freedom and happiness for our people, a march
for rebuilding Iraq, democratic and federalist and unified," he said.
Speaking in Baghdad, Mr. al-Yawer refered to Mr. Salim and the others killed
with him as martyrs, and he mentioned particularly Mr. Salim's deputy Talib
Kasem al-Haqami. He said the people who carry out such attacks should be ashamed,
and that their actions increase the suffering of the Iraqi people and could
extend the occupation.
U.S. and British officials say the transfer of sovereignty to a new Iraqi
government will happen at the end of June as promised, but they also say foreign
troops will need to stay in the country for some time to help the new government
Foreign Minister Zebari confirmed in comments that Iraq will require the
presence of foreign troops for some time. He said Iraqis want to take responsibility
for their own affairs, but the premature departure of the coalition forces
could mean disaster because Iraqis are not yet prepared to take over the security
challenges facing their country.
The top U.S. administrator for Iraq, Paul Bremer, condemned Monday's killing
Mr. Salim is the second Governing Council member to be assassinated. Last
September, Aquila al-Hashemi, one of three women on the Governing Council was