WASHINGTON – The attack on Egypt's top envoy to Baghdad and other diplomats will not deter the United States, Egypt or other governments from their roles in Iraq, a State Department spokesman said Friday.
In a statement issued as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (search) headed for China, the first stop on a a six-day trip to Asia, the State Department condemned the "brutal murder" of Ihab al-Sherif (search). "Such attacks will not defer us from our commitments to assist the Iraqi people in their transition towards a peaceful and prosperous Iraq," the statement said.
The statement made no mention of Abu Musad al-Zarqawi's (search) claim he had ordered the kidnaping Sunday of al-Sherif and had him killed.
Contrary to Al Qaeda's way of operating, the terror network did not distribute any videotape of the killing.
Earlier this week, gunmen fired on senior envoys from Bahrain and Pakistan, apparently attempting to kidnap them. Al Qaeda (search), in a Web posting, warned it would go after "as many ambassadors as we can."
Publicly, at least, the Bush administration has not brought pressure on other governments to keep troops or diplomats in Iraq. But the administration would like the broadest support it can muster for its operations in the country.
On Friday, State Department spokesman Tom Casey said, "We don't think these kinds of attacks are going to deter us, the government of Egypt and other governments from working together to build a more peaceful and prosperous Iraq."
At the same time, the spokesman said a new effort by Iran to build ties with Iraq might reflect attempts by Iraq to have good relations with its neighbors.
But Casey said statements on the new ties were not entirely clear.
Casey also said the United States would work with the Iraqi government and security officials "to bring those responsible" for the Egyptian diplomat's death to justice and to "eliminate the network behind them."
Rice, meanwhile, spoke by telephone to Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit (search) and expressed sympathy and condolences to the Egyptian government, the slain diplomat's family and colleagues and to the Egyptian people.
Saad Mohammed Ridha, the head of Iraq's diplomatic mission in Cairo, told The Associated Press that Egypt's foreign ministry informed him late Thursday that the mission in Iraq would close temporarily and its staff has been recalled.
Iraq urged the world's nations on Friday to stand up to "blackmail" and keep their diplomatic missions in the country.