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Defense / national security

North Korean Leader Kim Jong Il Has Died—Report

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is seen in this 2002 file photo.(AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)

December 18, 2011

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il has died, news organizations reported on Sunday. 

Kim, variously reported to be 69 or 70, was reported to have suffered a stroke in 2008, according to an Associated Press report on Sunday, but it's not clear exactly how the leader of the secretive and impoverished country died. State television reported Kim's death on Monday, according to the AP. 

The White House reacted cautiously to reports of Kim's death. 


"We are closely monitoring reports that Kim Jong Il is dead," press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement. "The President has been notified, and we are in close touch with our allies in South Korea and Japan. We remain committed to stability on the Korean peninsula, and to the freedom and security of our allies."

At midnight, Obama spoke by phone with South Korean President  Lee Myung-bak. 

"The two leaders agreed to stay in close touch as the situation develops and agreed they would direct their national security teams to continue close coordination," according to a White House summary of the telephone call. 

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