World Reacts To the Death of Kim Jong Il

Posted December 19th, 2011 at 8:35 am (UTC-5)
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The news of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's death has drawn worldwide reaction.

In Washington, U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were notified of the North Korean leader's death.

In a statement issued early Monday, the White House said it was in “close touch” with allies in South Korea and Japan. It said Mr. Obama spoke with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and reaffirmed Washington's commitment to stability on the Korean peninsula, and to the freedom and security of its allies. The statement said the two leaders agreed to direct their national security teams to continue close coordination.

In South Korea, President Lee cancelled all of his scheduled events. The South Korean leader called a National Security Council meeting Monday and placed the South Korean military on emergency alert, with increased aerial surveillance along the North Korean border.

The two Koreas remain technically at war since their 3-year conflict ended only in an armistice in 1953.

In Tokyo, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda convened a meeting with senior advisors to formulate a response to the North Korean leader's death.

China's official news agency, Xinhua, said officials in Beijing were distressed by news of Kim Jong-Il's death and offered condolences to the North Korean people. China is considered North Korea's closest ally and trading partner.

In London, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Mr. Kim's death could be a turning point for North Korea.

Hague urged North Korea's new leadership to recognize that engagement with the international community offers the best prospect of improving the lives of ordinary North Koreans.

He also encouraged North Korea to work for peace and security in the region and to take the steps necessary to allow the resumption of the six party talks on Pyongyang's nuclear program.