Clinton ‘deeply concerned’ for N Korea’s citizens

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States was “deeply concerned” for North Korea’s citizens and offered “thoughts and prayers” in the wake of leader Kim Jong-Il’s death.

It is the US hope the new North Korean leadership “will choose to guide their nation onto the path of peace by honoring North Korea’s commitments, improving relations with its neighbors, and respecting the rights of its people,” Clinton said in a statement late Monday.

“We are deeply concerned with the well being of the North Korean people and our thoughts and prayers are with them during these difficult times,” the top US diplomat said, after US leaders had earlier voiced concern for smooth transition after the death of the long-time strongman leader.

“The United States stands ready to help the North Korean people and urges the new leadership to work with the international community to usher in a new era of peace, prosperity and lasting security on the Korean Peninsula,” she said.

President Barack Obama had called his close friend President Lee Myung-Bak of South Korea after the death of the 69-year-old leader, with officials saying the US president reaffirmed commitment to “the security of our close ally, the Republic of Korea.”

Earlier Clinton called for a “peaceful and stable” transition in North Korea and said the United States wanted better relations with its people after Kim Jong-Il’s death.

“We both share a common interest in a peaceful and stable transition in North Korea as well as ensuring regional peace and stability,” Clinton said after talks with Japan’s Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba.

“We reiterate our hope for improved relations with the people of North Korea and remain deeply concerned about their well-being,” she said.

Clinton said that the United States has also been in “close touch” with South Korea along with China and Russia, which were all involved in now-moribund denuclearisation talks with North Korea.

Gemba — whose visit was scheduled before the shock announcement of Kim’s death — agreed with the US stance on North Korea and urged renewed efforts over the cases of Japanese abducted by the communist regime. — Sapa-AFP

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