Kim  Jong Il, left, meets Russian President Dmitry Medvedev last August at Ulan-Ude in southeastern Russia.

Story highlights

France says there isn't much hope since North Korea is a "closed-off" regime

South Korean president asks citizens to "go about their lives"

Australia: The time presents an opportunity to North Korea's new leadership

Russia says Moscow expects that Kim Jong Il's death won't affect friendly ties

CNN  — 

Unlike in the death of any other world leader, reactions from the international community to the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il were somewhat muted. Few countries issued statements in the hours immediately after Kim’s death was announced on North Korean state television. And some, like the United States, opted to focus on its relationship with South Korea.


Kevin Rudd, Foreign Minister: “It is at times like this that we cannot afford to have any wrong or ambiguous signaling. 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 program.”


Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs: “We were distressed to learn of the unfortunate passing of the senior-most North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, and we express our deep grief about this and extend our condolences to the people of North Korea. Kim Jong Il is a great leader of North Korean people, and is a close friend of Chinese people. … China and North Korea will make joint effort … to consolidate and develop the … friendship between the two countries … and to maintain the peace and stability of the Korean peninsula and the region.”


Cuban state-run newspaper Granma: “The State Council of the Republic of Cuba has declared official mourning following the death of comrade Kim Jong II, Chairman of the National Defense Committee and Secretary General of the Labor Party of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, on the 20, 21 and 22 of December.”


Foreign Minister Alain Juppe: “There isn’t much hope. It is a completely closed off regime … We are very cautious about the consequences of this succession. We hope that one day the North Korean people will find freedom. There are ongoing talks with North Korea … and we need to keep on talking with China and other participants to make North Korea abandon its nuclear weapon.”

– A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry said that France “reaffirms its commitment to peace and stability in the peninsula and hopes the North Korean regime will evolve in a positive way. … Our thoughts go to North Korean people who have been suffering for years from misery and lack of human rights. … France will carry on its action for North Korean people, especially by supporting humanitarian programs …”


Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle: “We hope that a window of opportunity will open for the people of North Korea,” Westerwelle said during a joint news conference with British Foreign Secretary William Hague.


Osamu Fujimura, Japanese chief government spokesman: “We express our condolences on the news of the passing Kim Jong Il, the chairman of the National Defense Commission of North Korea. We wish the sudden news would not affect North Korea negatively.”


Department of Foreign Affairs: “The Government and people of the Philippines convey our condolences to the Government and people of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) on the death of President Kim Jong-Il. … The Philippine Government values its relations with the DPRK and will continue to cooperate with them to intensify the promotion and maintenance of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, including in the Korean Peninsula, to ensure the region’s continued prosperity.”


Sergei Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister: Moscow expects that Kim Jong Il’s death won’t affect friendly ties between Russia and North Korea, Russia’s Interfax news agency reported.


South Korean President Lee Myung-bak: “For the sake of the future of the Republic of Korea, peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula is more important than anything else. It should not be threatened by what has happened. We must make thorough preparations to maintain peace and stability and continue to work closely with the international community … All citizens are asked to go about their lives without wavering so that peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula will not be hampered.”

South Korea’s presidential crisis management director said in a televised statement that Seoul “will monitor North Korea very closely and will be fully prepared” and will “work closely with related countries.”


William Hague, British Foreign Secretary: “The people of N 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 recognize 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.”


The White House: The Obama administration had little to say about Kim’s death, noting it was “closely monitoring reports.” The White House said President Barack Obama spoke with his South Korean counterpart and had reconfirmed the U.S. commitment to the “stability on the Korean peninsula, and to the freedom and security of our allies.”