( dpa ) - European Union officials strongly condemned Friday's twin suicide bombing attack in Baghdad and vowed to continue to help build a democratic and reconciled Iraq.
"I condemn in the strongest terms the two bomb attacks in Bagdad today which caused the death and injury of so many ordinary Iraqis," said Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the EU's external affairs commissioner.
"We are fully aware of the difficulties Iraq and the Iraqi people are facing on the path towards establishing and strengthening democratic structures in the country and continuing the reconciliation process and maintaining national unity. The (European) Commission will continue to assist Iraq in this very difficult process," she added.
As recently as Thursday, Ferrero-Waldner had welcomed to Brussels Iraq's oil minister, Hussain al-Shahristani, with talks centring on Iraqi plans to supply natural gas to the EU.
The EU is providing Iraq with 76 million euros (113 million dollars) in aid this year and is also helping build up its civil institutions.
Negotiations between the two sides on a Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) are at an advanced stage.
Earlier Friday, two female suicide bombers blew themselves up in Baghdad's pet and bird markets, killing at least 69 people and wounding 180. The attack was the deadliest in the capital in the last six months, Iraqi security and medical officials said.