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The assassination of the President of the Iraqi Governing Council, Ezzidin Salim, is a shocking and tragic loss. Our thoughts are with his family. We pray that God may give them strength in this awful hour of grief.

Mr Salim worked tirelessly for the interests of Iraq. He strove for the downfall of the former regime and the birth of a democratic Iraq. He returned to Iraq after its liberation and continued to serve his country, making an enormous contribution to the work of the Governing Council.

Mr Salimís death will be felt keenly by all who knew him and all who serve the new Iraq. His humility, gentle manner and learning endeared him to all. He was a good friend whose wisdom and quiet faith were a constant source of strength to me. I will miss him.

The terrorists who are seeking to destroy Iraq have struck a cruel blow with this vile act today. But they will be defeated. Ezzidin Salimís death will not have been in vain. The Iraqi people will ensure that his vision of a democratic, free and prosperous Iraq will become a reality.

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