Asian officials react on capture of Saddam Hussein

Some government officials in Asian countries on Monday made various comments on the capture of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein by the US-led forces.

Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said the capture of Saddam Hussein was a victory for the United States-led international coalition against terrorism.

In a statement, Arroyo said the capture of Saddam "is a major milestone" for the international coalition and Filipino peacekeepers and humanitarian workers will remain in Iraq to help its recovery from war.

New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark Monday welcomed Saddam'scapture, saying it allowed Iraq to move on. "As long as he's at large there will always be a fear in the community that he might resurface in some sort of position of authority and maybe wreak revenge on people," she said.

Clark ruled out supporting the death penalty for the former Iraqi leader. saying "the New Zealand Government does not support the death penalty in any circumstances, nor does New Zealand legislation, and I won't make an exception, even for someone as gross as Saddam Hussein."

It was important Saddam go through the full judicial process ofcharges, prosecution and sentencing, Clark said in a statement. She had no preference on whether that should be in Iraq or elsewhere.

"I know the British Prime Minister (Tony Blair) has commented today to the effect that ultimately the Iraqis themselves will decide how he will be tried but I think it's very early days," shesaid.

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said that the capture of Saddam Hussein would boost the search of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Downer said in Sidney that he told US Secretary of State CollinPowell Monday that Australia supports a trial of Saddam in Iraq under the newly-formed Iraqi war crimes tribunal.

"The alternative of dragging him off to the United States and finding a way of prosecuting him in an American court or before some UN tribunal is much less satisfactory than ensuring that the Iraqi people themselves can bring this monster to justice," he said.

Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said that he hoped the arrest of Saddam Hussein would end the further bloodshed in Iraq.

"I hope that the capture of Saddam Hussein will shorten or put an end to further bloodshed in Iraq, and to put an end to the further deaths of American and Iraqi people," Hor said.

Hor also expressed his hope that Saddam Hussein would be tried "in a fair manner."

Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono made him the first high-level officials in the world's largest Muslim country to comment on Saddam's capture.

Susilo told reporters in Jakarta that Saddam Hussein deserves to receive a fair trial despite what he did in the past. "The possible trial on Saddam Hussein must take the humanitarian aspects into serious accounts," he said.

"If an accountable, transparent and fair trial delivers a verdict, I think the world will accept," Susilo said.

He said that "the effort of Indonesian people or international communities fighting against terrorism would continue."



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