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UN chief shaken by Baghdad explosion
by UK Guardian (reposted)
Thursday Mar 22nd, 2007 8:09 AM
A press conference given by the UN secretary general and the Iraqi prime minister was interrupted when a rocket landed yards from the site today.
Ban Ki-moon, who flew into Baghdad today, ducked behind the podium when the impact shook the building as he addressed reporters alongside Nuri al-Maliki in the Iraqi prime minister's office inside Baghdad's fortified green zone.

The rocket landed around 50 metres away and left a one-metre crater, journalists who went out to investigate said.

Mr al-Maliki's security staff began to move Mr Moon away, but he shook off their attentions, saying: "Nothing's wrong". The press conference then continued, even as small pieces of debris came down from the ceiling.

Mr Ban, the former South Korean foreign minister who took over from Kofi Annan as the secretary general in January, is making his first visit to Iraq on the unannounced one-day visit.

His visit came as a senior Iraqi official said the country's government was holding talks with Sunni insurgent groups in an attempt to persuade them to lay down their arms.

Saad Yousif al-Muttalibi, of the Ministry of National Dialogue and Reconciliation, said the talks were initiated at the request of the insurgents, and had been taking place both inside and outside Iraq over the past three months.

He refused to identify the groups involved, but said they did not include al-Qaida in Iraq or Saddam Hussein loyalists.

Members of the former president's Ba'ath party did, however, take part, he added.

by BBC (reposted)
Thursday Mar 22nd, 2007 8:10 AM
UN chief Ban Ki-moon has been left shaken by a blast which interrupted a news conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki in Baghdad.

As Mr Ban was speaking during the live televised event, a mortar or rocket landed about 50 metres (165ft) from the building, causing him to duck.

Mr Ban appeared frightened but neither he nor Mr Maliki was hurt.

The UN chief had earlier arrived on his first visit to Baghdad since he took office in January this year.

The BBC's Hugh Sykes in Baghdad says buildings and windows shook and people clutched their furniture when the huge bang reverberated throughout the city at about 1530 (1230 GMT).

He says it appeared to be caused by a mortar attack on the international zone, otherwise known as the Green Zone, where all the diplomats and most of the US military are, in the centre of Baghdad.

At the moment of the blast, the camera filming the news conference shook slightly, while in the middle of the frame the UN chief could be seen ducking.