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Postponed by terrorist attack, 'peace bell' ceremony held at UN Headquarters

Postponed by terrorist attack, 'peace bell' ceremony held at UN Headquarters

Mr. Annan ringing Peace Bell
Three days after its traditional date - the second Tuesday of September marked as the International Day of Peace -- the annual ringing of the Peace Bell was held today at United Nations Headquarters in New York in a sombre expression of solidarity with the victims of this week's devastating terrorist attacks against the United States.

"We did not ring the peace bell on Tuesday, and perhaps many of us do not feel like ringing it now, as we are still learning the full scale of this week's tragedy," observed Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the rain-soaked ceremony on the front lawn of the UN complex.

"We ring this peace bell in solidarity with the people and Government of the United States, at this moment of immense suffering and bereavement," he said. "We ring this bell in honour of the victims."

"We have lost family, friends, and colleagues," said the Secretary-General. "But let us not lose hope. We must maintain our resolve, and all nations must unite against the forces of darkness and depravity. It is at moments such as this, more than ever, that we need to re-dedicate ourselves to the cause of peace."

One of the participants at today's ceremony, Wei Li Chai, worked at the World Trade Center and lost several of his colleagues in the attacks. He was not in the WTC building at the time of the attack on Tuesday because he had come to the UN to listen to his daughter sing as part of the peace bell ceremony before it was cancelled.

With today designated as a "Day of Prayer" in the US, the Secretary-General's programme includes attending services in New York, beginning at the Church of Heavenly Rest on the Upper East Side and continuing this afternoon at the nearby Islamic Cultural Center of New York. Both are holding ceremonies in honour of the victims.

Next Tuesday, Mr. Annan is scheduled to go to Temple Emannuel, a synagogue that will hold a similar ceremony.