North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, 69, has died

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- Kim Jong Il, North Korea's mercurial and enigmatic leader, has died. He was 69.

Kim's death was announced Monday by the state television from the North Korean capital, Pyongyang.

Kim is believed to have suffered a stroke in 2008 but appeared relatively vigorous in photos and video from recent trips to China and Russia and in numerous trips around the country carefully documented by state media. The leader, reputed to have had a taste for cigars, cognac and gourmet cuisine, was believed to have had diabetes and heart disease.

Updates:

UN denounces NKorea rights violations

UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- The U.N. General Assembly has overwhelmingly approved a resolution denouncing widespread human rights violations in North Korea ranging from public executions to severe restrictions on freedom of expression, religion and assembly.

The General Assembly vote was scheduled before the announcement late Sunday that North Korea's leader Kim Jong Il had died.

The 193-member world body urged North Korea "to immediately put an end to the systematic, widespread and grave violations."

North Korea rejected the resolution, insisting there have been no such rights violations in the reclusive communist nation.

The resolution was approved Monday by a vote of 123-16, with 51 abstentions.

Yonhap says North Korea conducts missile test

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- South Korea's Yonhap news agency says North Korea has conducted a short-range missile test on the day the country announced the death of leader Kim Jong Il.

South Korean military officials said Monday they couldn't immediately confirm the report. Yonhap cited unidentified government officials as saying the missile test occurred off the east coast.

North Korea is urging its people to rally behind Kim Jong Il's young son and heir-apparent Kim Jong Un. The world is watching warily for signs of instability in a nation pursuing nuclear weapons.

South Korea has put its military on high alert against the North's 1.2 million-strong armed forces. President Barack Obama agreed by phone with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak to closely monitor developments.

Kim's death viewed with wary optimism

BERLIN (AP) -- World governments are viewing the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il with wary optimism -- a possibly destabilizing moment for the region as power passes to his son but also an opportunity for a new diplomatic start.

Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague expressed his condolences Monday but said "this could be a turning point for North Korea" as Kim Jong Un takes over as supreme leader.

Hague is calling for North Korea now to "take the steps necessary" to resume international talks aimed at ending its nuclear weapons program.

Australia's Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd says Kim's death is an "opportunity for the North Korean regime... to engage fully with the international community."

Key ally China offered deep condolences, calling Kim a "great leader."


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