Thu, Aug 21, 2003 - Page 7 News List

Southeast Asia mourns Vieira de Mello


Cambodia as well as once-bitter enemies East Timor and Indonesia, mourned the loss of Sergio Vieira de Mello, the UN diplomat who helped them rise above decades of brutal oppression and guerrilla warfare.

East Timor has lost a "unique and unforgettable friend,'' President Xanana Gusmao said yesterday following news that Vieira de Mello was killed in the bomb attack against the UN's offices in Baghdad.

"It is with shock and great sadness that I received news of the tragic killing ... he fought tirelessly for democracy, human rights and justice," President Gusmao said.

In Jakarta, Indonesian officials also praised his achievements.

"Vieira de Mello personified the high dedication of UN officers who often work in very demanding situations," Indonesian foreign ministry spokesman Marty Natalegawa said.

"As a country which has fallen victim to these barbaric acts we urge the UN not to succumb to the dictates of terrorism and continue to maintain a presence in Iraq."

Vieira de Mello's temporary administration of East Timor has been hailed as one of the UN's greatest success stories.

Shocked Cambodians paid tribute to Vieira de Mello for helping bring peace to the war-shattered Southeast Asian nation.

In Cambodia, he played a key role in the huge international aid and democracy program in 1991 to 1992.

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