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12/17/03 - ASIA REACTS TO SADDAM’S CAPTURE - 2003-12-18

Countries in Asia and the Pacific have welcomed the capture of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

Philippine President Gloria Arroyo said that Saddam’s capture could pave the way for “a stable and peaceful future” for Iraq. Thailand’s Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was optimistic about developments in Iraq. Saddam’s capture “closes a tragic chapter in Iraqi history,” he said. “The people of Iraq may now have the confidence to concentrate on rebuilding their great nation.”

Indonesian officials said they hope the capture of Saddam Hussein will bring peace to Iraq and speed the return of control of the country back to its citizens. In Pakistan, foreign office spokesman Masood Khan called the capture an important development. In a statement, the Indian government expressed “the hope that these developments should contribute to the stabilization of Iraq.”

Australian Prime Minister John Howard congratulated “those elements of the United States military responsible for [Saddam’s] capture.” Mr. Howard said it “is a huge boost for the cause of liberty and democracy in Iraq.” He said the Iraqi people can breathe a sigh of relief now that the former dictator is no longer at large:

“I’m delighted for the Iraqi people because Saddam’s capture removes that haunting worry that he would come back.”

Chinese leaders issued a statement saying they hoped Iraq would now be able to move forward without the threat of Saddam Hussein’s return. In South Korea, Foreign Ministry spokesman Shin Bong-kil said, “Our government hopes [the arrest] will help eradicate terrorism in Iraq in the future and bring about political stability and better living conditions for the Iraqi people and accelerate post-war recovery, reconstruction, and peace.”

Perhaps Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi summed it up best when he said, “The capture of Saddam Hussein is a big step forward for the progress of security and the reconstruction of Iraq, and I welcome it. I strongly hope this will bring the Iraqi people further together to realize a free and democratic Iraq.”