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LONDON, England (CNN) -- While many countries and rights groups around the world said they did not support the death penalty, most expressed the hope that the execution of Saddam Hussein would prove a turning point for the people of Iraq.
U.S. President George W. Bush
"Bringing Saddam Hussein to justice will not end the violence in Iraq, but it is an important milestone on Iraq's course to becoming a democracy that can govern, sustain, and defend itself," Bush said in a statement from his Texas ranch. (Full story)
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki
"Saddam's execution puts an end to all the pathetic gambles on the return to dictatorship. I urge followers of the ousted regime to reconsider their stance as the door is still open to anyone who has no innocent blood on his hands, to help in rebuilding an Iraq for all Iraqis," he said.
British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett
"I welcome the fact that Saddam Hussein has been tried by an Iraqi court for at least some of the appalling crimes he committed against the Iraqi people. He has now been held to account. The British Government does not support the use of the death penalty, in Iraq or anywhere else ... We have made our position very clear to the Iraqi authorities, but we respect their decision as that of a sovereign nation."
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi
"A capital punishment is always tragic news, a reason for sadness, even if it deals with a person who was guilty of grave crimes. The position of the Church has been restated often. The killing of the guilty party is not the way to reconstruct justice and reconcile society. On the contrary there is a risk that it will feed a spirit of vendetta and sow new violence. In these dark times for the Iraqi people one can only hope that all responsible parties truly make every effort so that glimmers of reconciliation and peace can be found in such a dramatic situation."
Iranian state-run television
"Saddam, enforcer of the most horrendous crimes against humanity, has been put to death," Iran's state-run television reported. "With the execution of Saddam, the dossier of one of the world's most criminal dictators was closed," it said.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai
"The execution of the former Iraqi president is the work of Iraq's government. We wish the Iraqi people prosperity, happiness and success. Eid is the day of happiness, the day of goodness, the day of reconciliation, not the day of revenge."
French Foreign Ministry
"France calls upon all Iraqis to look towards the future and work towards reconciliation and national unity. Now more than ever, the objective should be a return to full sovereignty and stability in Iraq," the French foreign ministry said in a statement. "France, which like the rest of its European partners advocates the universal abolition of capital punishment, notes the execution of Saddam Hussein on Saturday. That decision was made by the people and the sovereign authorities of Iraq."
Finnish Foreign minister Erkki Tuomioja, whose country currently holds the rotating European Union presidency
"The European Union has a very consistent stand ... on opposing the death penalty and it should not have been applied in this case either, even though there is no doubt about Saddam Hussein's guilt over serious violations against human rights," Tuomioja said in Helsinki. He also said that the court case against Saddam "gave cause for some serious objections."
Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer
Downer said while Australia opposed the death penalty, Saddam had faced justice and a fair trial and had been found guilty of crimes against humanity. "The people of Iraq now know that their brutal dictator will never come back to lead them," Downer said in a statement. "While many will continue to grieve over their personal loss under his rule, his death marks an important step in consigning his tyrannical regime to the judgment of history and pursuing a process of reconciliation now and in the future."
Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi
The government of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi announced a three-day official mourning period following Saddam Hussein's execution and canceled all celebrations of the Islamic Eid al-Adha feast. In an official statement, the government ordered all its branches to lower the national flag to half staff. "All celebrations all around the country should also be canceled," the statement said.
Russian Foreign Ministry
Russia said it regretted the execution and expressed concerns that his death could trigger a new spiral of violence in Iraq. "Regrettably, repeated calls by representatives of various nations and international organizations to the Iraqi authorities to refrain from capital punishment were not heard," Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin said in a statement. "Saddam Hussein's execution can lead to further aggravation of the military and political situation and the growth of ethnic and confessional tensions."
Indian Congress Party
Japanese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Tomohiko Taniguchi
Brazilian Foreign Ministry
"(Brazil) does not believe carrying out this sentence will contribute to bringing peace to Iraq."
Human Rights Watch Director Richard Dicker
"Saddam Hussein was responsible for massive human rights violations, but that can't justify giving him the death penalty, which is a cruel and inhuman punishment," Dicker told The Associated Press.
Amnesty International U.S.A. Director Larry Cox
"The rushed execution of Saddam Hussein is simply wrong. It signifies justice denied for countless victims who endured unspeakable suffering during his regime, and now have been denied their right to see justice served."
Spanish government statement
Spain's government said it "laments this morning's execution of the Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein." But it added that it "wants it understood that the Iraqi president was responsible for grave human rights violations and his dictatorial regime led his people to confront tragic situations and great suffering."
Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs
"The execution of former President Saddam Hussein, which can only be described as a sad event, is another poignant reminder of the violence that continues to grip Iraq. We hope that this event would not further exacerbate the security situation. It remains our earnest hope to see peace, stability and reconciliation so that people of Iraq regain control of their affairs in a secure environment."
Sen. Joseph Biden, incoming chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee
"Iraq has closed one of the darkest chapters in its history and rid the world of a tyrant. Every effort was made to afford Saddam the judicial rights he denied to the 148 innocent victims of Dujail and to hundreds of thousands of other Iraqis during his brutal reign. I hope that the families of his many victims can now begin the healing process."
Arab pilgrims at the annual hajj gathering in Mecca
"His execution on the day of Eid ... is an insult to all Muslims," Jordanian pilgrim Nidal Mohammad Salah told Reuters. "What happened is not good because as a head of state, he should not be executed."
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Iraqis watch news on Hussein's execution on television.