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Leaders express sorrow at Polish president's death

A look at what world leaders are saying about the plane crash in which Polish President Lech Kaczynski perished Saturday:

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

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"On this difficult day the people of Russia stand with the Polish people." — Russian President Dmitry Medvedev

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"I knew that his whole life had been dedicated to the fight for the freedom of Poland and the freedom of Europe . . . Germany is mourning today with the whole Polish people." — German Chancellor Angela Merkel

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"We know the difficulties that Poland has gone through, the sacrifices that he himself made as part of the Solidarity movement. We know the contribution he made to the independence and the freedom of Poland." — British Prime Minister Gordon Brown

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"Lech Kaczynski devoted his life to his country. A tireless defender of the ideas in which he believed, he always battled with conviction for the values that founded his entry into politics: democracy, liberty and the fight against totalitarianism," French President Nicolas Sarkozy

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"It is a grave loss that has stricken a friendly country and in which I am sharing in with my heart." — Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi

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Kaczynski "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." — U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

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"It is with the deepest sorrow that I have learnt of the death of President Lech Kaczynski and First Lady Madame Kaczynska. On this sad occasion I recall President Kaczynski's long and distinguished public service and his role in the Solidarity movement." — Queen Elizabeth

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"As guests of The President and his wife only a few weeks ago, Their Royal Highnesses experienced at first hand their generous hospitality during what was a very memorable and enjoyable visit to Poland. The Prince and Duchess's thoughts and prayers are with the president's family, the loved ones of those killed, and all Polish people on this tragic day." — Prince Charles

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"President Kaczynski was a strong defender of freedom and a friend to the United States. (Former First Lady) Laura (Bush) and I have fond memories of our visits with the president and Maria. On this sad day, we send our heartfelt condolences to the people of Poland, and especially to the families of all those lost in this tragic accident." — Former President George W. Bush

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"President Kaczynski and his wife did much to promote closer ties between the Polish and Jewish peoples, making a significant contribution to the healing process of the scars of the past and the building of a common better future. The bilateral ties between our two countries were strengthened during his presidency, distinguished by a spirit of friendship and warmth." — Israeli President Shimon Peres

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"This is a black day for Poland. It's a disaster of unheard-of proportions. To think that a considerable part of the Polish government has died, it's terrible: the president of Poland, the foreign minister, the head of the armed forces, the deputy chairman of parliament. We sympathize intensely with the next of kin and the Polish people." — Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende

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"On behalf of all of NATO, and myself personally, I express my most profound condolences to the people of Poland, and to the families of President and Mrs. Kaczynski and all those who have died in this terrible accident. This is a tragedy for them and for Poland. My thoughts are with them today." — NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen

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"President Lech Kaczynski was a man who stood proudly and defiantly for democracy and human rights through even the most difficult times. His sudden passing is a great loss for his country and for his many friends here in Canada, particularly within the Polish-Canadian community." — Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper

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"Ukraine has learned about the plane crash ... with great sorrow and inexpressible pain." — Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych said in a statement.

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"I received with profound sadness the news of the tragic air accident that killed President Lech Kaczynski, his wife and a great number of Polish officials. . . In this moment of pain and loss, rest assured that you can count on the full solidarity of Brazil and on the historical ties of friendship that unite Brazilians and Poles." — Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva

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"I have worked very closely with President Kaczynski, in a spirit of loyalty, and I respected in him a very determined Polish patriot who at the same time was very committed to our European Union and to the values of freedom and solidarity." — European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso

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"I would like to send my heartfelt condolences to the people of Poland and express our solidarity with you at this very difficult and sad time. In particular, I want to express my sympathies to the family and friends of those who died." — Catherine Ashton, EU security and foreign affairs chief

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"President Kaczynski, as a dedicated and honorable leader who assiduously defended the rights of his country, will without a doubt live in the hearts of all Polish people while all those who had come to know him will remember him with the utmost respect." — Cyprus President Dimitris Christofias.

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"The government and people of Colombia express and send to the brother nation of Poland their condolences and solidarity in the face of this terrible event." — Colombian Foreign Ministry.

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"In the name of the Venezuelan people, the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela sends its most sincere condolences to the people and government of Poland, in particular directing its message of mourning to the relatives and associates of the victims." — Venezuelan Foreign Ministry.