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Polish president's death - world reaction

RIA Novosti


MOSCOW, April 10 (RIA Novosti) - World leaders have been paying tribute to Polish President Lech Kaczynski, who died in a plane crash in west Russia on Saturday.

The plane was carrying sixty-year-old Kaczynski, his wife and a delegation of senior officials to a ceremony to commemorate the memory of some 20,000 Polish officers killed by Soviet secret police during World War Two.

The Soviet-made Tu-154 hit trees as it approached Smolensk airport in thick fog. All 97 people on board died.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he was shocked to hear the news of the crash.

"On behalf of the United Nations, the Secretary-General expresses his deep and heartfelt condolences to the people and government of Poland and to the families of those who perished," Ban's spokesman said..

"The Secretary-General said President Kaczynski had served his country and people with distinction and conviction, and was deservedly respected internationally. That he died en route to an event marking a new level of reconciliation between Poland and Russia is particularly poignant."

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announced a national day of mourning for April 12 and called for unity between Russia and Poland in the face of the "terrible tragedy."

U.S. President Barack Obama said his "thoughts and prayers are with the Kaczynski family, the loved ones of those killed in this tragic plane crash, and the Polish nation."

"Today's loss is devastating to Poland, to the United States, and to the world. President Kaczynski was a distinguished statesman who played a key role in the Solidarity movement, and he was widely admired in the United States as a leader dedicated to advancing freedom and human dignity," he went on.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Kaczynski would be "mourned across the world."

"President Kaczynski was one of the defining actors in Poland's modern political history," Brown said. "From his role in the Solidarity movement to his long and distinguished career in public service."

"All of Germany is mourning and standing with you," German Chancellor Angela Merkel wrote to Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Kaczynski's death was a tragedy for Poland.

"France loses a friend who was profoundly attached to developing relations between our two countries," the French leader said.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton also expressed her condolences.

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