World reacts to death of North Korean leader

Governments and diplomats extend condolences and caution during what one official calls the “sad suffering of a people”.

Kim Jong-il dead
Kim Jong-il, centre, with his son Kim Jong-un, left, in a photo released by North Korean state media in May 2011 [EPA]

International reaction to the announcement on Monday of the death of Kim Jong-il, the North Korean leader.

Ban Ki-moon, United Nations secretary-general

The UN chief, who is South Korean, “extends his sympathy to the people of [North Korea] at this time of their national
mourning,” said a statement read to reporters by UN spokesman Farhan Haq.

Ban “reaffirms his commitment to peace and security on the Korean peninsula”, Haq said.

“The United Nations system will continue to help the people of North Korea. The Secretary-General is closely following the situation.”

Hillary Clinton, US secretary of state

The United States hopes North Korea will follow “the path of peace,” work with the international community and improve relations with its neighbors following the death of its leader Kim Jong-il.

Osamu Fujimura, Japan’s government spokesman

We express our condolences upon receiving the announcement of the sudden passing of Kim Jong-Il, the chairman of the National Defence Committee of North Korea.

The Japanese government hopes that this unexpected development would not bring any adverse impact on the peace and stability of the Korean peninsula.

Liu Weimin, China’s foreign ministry spokesman

We are shocked to learn that Democratic People’s Republic of Korea [DPRK] top leader comrade Kim Jong Il passed away and we hereby express our deep condolences on his demise and send sincere regards to the DPRK people.

Kevin Rudd, Australia’s foreign minister

Two critical points need to be emphasised at this important time. The first is that all governments, including the government of North Korea, should at this time be exercising maximum calm and restraint both in terms of what they do and in their diplomatic signalling.

It is at times like this that we cannot afford to have any wrong or ambiguous signalling.

This time also presents an important opportunity to the new North Korean leadership to engage fully with the international community on how to improve their economy in order to properly feed their people and critically on how to deal with the outstanding problem of North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme.

Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister

Moscow expects that Kim Jong-il’s death won’t affect friendly ties between Russia and North Korea.

William Hague, UK foreign secretary

The people of North Korea are in official mourning after the death of Kim Jong-il. We understand this is a difficult time for them.

This could be a turning point for North Korea. We hope that their new leadership will recognise that engagement with the international community offers the best prospect of improving the lives of ordinary North Korean people. 

We encourage North Korea to work for peace and security in the region and take the steps necessary to allow the resumption of the Six Party Talks on denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.

Alain Juppe, French foreign minister

We are very watchful of the consequences of this succession, hoping that one day the people of North Korea will be able to find freedom.

The death of a man is never something to be cheered, but it is the sad suffering of a people that is important.

There is a process of dialogue with North Korea that has highs and lows. This dialogue must continue, with China and the other participants, so that North Korea renounces its nuclear weapons.

Carl Bildt, Swedish foreign minister on Twitter

The death of a dictator is always a period of uncertainty for a dictatorship. And North Korea is the hardest dictatorship in our time.

Don Manzullo, chairman of the US House foreign affairs subcommittee on East Asia

Kim Jong-Il was the epitome of evil, a dictator of the worst kind who ruled his country with an iron fist and dished out constant pain and misery to his people.

We hope his passing will mark a new chapter for North Korea. This is an opportunity for North Korea to emerge from its cycle of oppression and walk down a new path toward democracy.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies