Shimon Peres, the deputy prime minister, said: "Saddam Hussein brought about his own demise. This was a man who caused a great deal of harm to his people and who was a major threat to Israel."
 
However, the ruling Palestinian movement, Hamas, described the execution as a "political assassination" which "violates all international laws".
 
The oppostion Palestinian Fatah faction said that the execution was "a disrespectful tribute to Eid al-Adha, and should never have taken place now".
 
Libya declared three days of national mourning and described Saddam as a "prisoner of war".
 
Saudi Arabia also expressed its "surprise and dismay" at the execution.
 
The Saudi Press Agency, which expresses the official line, also criticised the "politicisation" of Saddam's trial.
 
Held to account
 
George Bush, the US president, hailed the execution as "an important milestone" on the road to an Iraqi democracy, but said it would not end the violence there.
 

"Saddam Hussein's execution comes at the end of a difficult year for the Iraqi people and for our troops," Bush said after the execution.

 

"Many difficult choices and further sacrifices lie ahead. Yet the safety and security of the American people require that we not relent in ensuring that Iraq's young democracy continues to progress." 

 

Margaret Beckett, the British foreign secretary, said Saddam had been held to account for some of his crimes against the Iraqi people; however, Britain remains opposed to capital punishment.
 
She said:"I welcome the fact that Saddam Hussein has been tried by an Iraqi court for at least some of the appalling crimes he committed against the Iraqi people. He has now been held to account."
 
National unity
 

France, staunchly opposed to the death penalty, called on Iraqis to work towards reconciliation and national unity.

 

The French foreign ministry said in statement: "France calls upon all Iraqis to look towards the future and work towards reconciliation and national unity. Now more than ever, the objective should be a return to full sovereignty and stability in Iraq."

 

Japan, a close US ally, said it respected Iraq's decision to execute Saddam, saying the act was based on the "rule of law".

 

"This is a decision made by Iraq's new government on the rule of law," a foreign ministry official said. "We respect it."

 

Syed Hamid Albar, the Malaysian foreign minister, said: "A lot of people, the international community generally are not in favour of the hanging and question the due process that took place.

 

"We are surprised that they went ahead nowithstanding.

 

"I think there will be repercussions. The only thing is we hope they will be able to contain this. Because the conflict is not going to end. This is not the answer."

Source: Agencies