Auckland service marks 9/11 attacks

By Edward Gay

Representatives from the American consulate and New Zealand government gathered in Auckland this morning for a service to commemorate the September 11 attacks.

Police officers surrounded the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Parnell for the 8am service to commemorate the sixth anniversary.

Foreign Affairs minister Winston Peters and American Ambassador Bill McCormick laid wreaths at the altar in front of about 100 onlookers squeezed into the chancel and choir stalls.

They were joined by Jim Bolger, chairman of the New Zealand, US Council and vice chairman Fred Benson.

The service was led by Rev Catherine Thorn who prayed for all victims of violence.

"Grant us the courage to love, the courage to live and the courage to forgive," she said.

The small congregation responded by calling for peace.

"Delight in the good, forgiveness for past wrongs and from now a new start."

Outside, Ambassador McCormick said on September 11 he remembered a friend of his, Ira Zaslo, who was killed in one of the towers.

"When they read out his obituary, it said he had married and he coached a little league team. He typifies the victims. They were from all walks of life," Mr McCormick said.

Mr Peters said the service was serious and solemn.

"It was a gracefully conducted event," he said.

Mr Peters said he had attended September 11 commemoration services overseas but this one was special.

The commemoration comes after the US commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, recommended the draw down of US forces from Iraq begin this month with the departure of a Marine unit.

In a report to US president George W. Bush, Gen Petraeus favours continuing troop cuts to about 130,000 by the end of January.

- Additional information Reuters

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