World Reacts Warily to Death of Kim Jong Il

Leaders call for peace, security, engagement with world
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 19, 2011 10:18 AM CST
World Reacts Warily to Death of Kim Jong Il
Kim Jong II, center, takes part of a souvenir picture during his childhood with his parents, North Korean leader Kim Jong Suk, right, and leader Kim Il Sung.    (AP Photo/Korean Central News Agency via Korea News Service)

(Newser) – With the death of Kim Jong Il, the world is reacting cautiously, hoping it might improve the situation in North Korea but also wary of the potential for danger, reports the AP. British Foreign Secretary William Hague said "this could be a turning point for North Korea," calling on the North's new leadership to "recognize that engagement with the international community offers the best prospect of improving the lives of ordinary North Korean people." On the other hand, President Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak kept their statements focused on security and the US-South Korean alliance, according to statements reported by Time. "The two leaders agreed to closely co-operate and monitor the situation together," said a rep for Lee.

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A spokesman for China called Kim a "great leader" and said China would continue to support the North and peace on the Korean peninsula. "He was the greatest master of survival, against all odds," North Korea expert Andrei Lankov told the Sydney Morning Herald. But "it was his own people who paid the price, and the price was pretty high." However, one source was more sorrowful—the North's Korean Central News Agency: “He passed away too suddenly to our profound regret. The heart of Kim Jong Il stopped beating, but his noble and august name and benevolent image will always be remembered by our army and people.” (Read more North Korea stories.)

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