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'This could be a turning point for North Korea': World reaction to Kim Jong Il's death

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il died of a heart attack Saturday while on a train trip. Here is how the world has reacted to his death.
/ Source: msnbc.com staff and news service reports

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il died of a heart attack Saturday while on a train trip.

Here is how the world has reacted to his death.

White House press secretary Jay Carney:
"We remain committed to stability on the Korean peninsula, and to the freedom and security of our allies."

British Foreign Secretary William Hague:
"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."

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu:
"We were distressed to learn of the unfortunate passing of the senior-most North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, and we express our grief about this and extend our condolences to the people of North Korea. We are confident that the North Korean people will be able to turn their anguish into strength and unify as one."

Dr John Swenson-Wright, associate fellow of the Asia Programme at London-based think thank Chatham House: "It comes at a particularly bad time. In North Korea, it will overshadow preparations for the spring celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the birth of President Kim Il Sung. In South Korea there are elections and for the United States, President Obama is also in an election year with a difficult economy and quite pressing international concerns elsewhere."

Australia's Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd:
"The absolute importance is maintain calm and restraint at this time of critical leadership transition ... This is the single most armed military zone anywhere in the world."

Victor Cha, a Korea expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank in Washington:
"Up until tonight, if anybody had asked you what would be the most likely scenario under which the North Korean regime could collapse, the answer would be the sudden death of Kim Jong Il. And so I think right now we're in that scenario and we don't know how it's going to turn out."

Kim Ok-tae, a 58-year old pastor from Seoul, South Korea:
"The whole earth should celebrate it as much as Christmas. I am not at all afraid. I don't see any likelihood of North Korea lashing out unexpectedly."

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura:
"We hope this sudden event does not have an adverse effect on the peace and stability of the Korean peninsula."

Dane Chamorro, a regional director at the Global Risks consultancy:
"Often in times like this, the regime will do something to demonstrate that it is still viable, powerful, still a threat. It might be a missile test, some type of aggression or conflict."

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt:
"The death of a dictator is always a period of uncertainty for a dictatorship. And North Korea is the hardest dictatorship in our time."

Brian Shin, a 30-year-old native South Korean who lives in Los Angeles:
"Kim Jong Il died? You're sure about that? No way! I thought he was going to live forever!"