World Remembers Reagan

Ronald Reagan (search) was remembered in former Soviet republics and other ex-East Bloc nations as the American president who stared down Moscow and won. In the Middle East and Latin America, the memories were not as fond.

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev (search), who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in reforming his nation and easing world tension, called Reagan a "true leader, a man of his word and an optimist."

Within two years after Gorbachev's ascent to power in 1985, the two leaders signed a treaty eliminating the entire class of medium-range nuclear-tipped missiles.

"I don't know whether we would have been able to agree and to insist on the implementation of our agreements with a different person at the helm of American government," Gorbachev said in op-ed piece in Monday's New York Times.

"True, Reagan was a man of the right. But, while adhering to his convictions, with which one could agree or disagree, he was not dogmatic; he was looking for negotiations and cooperation."

Others recalled Reagan's tough rhetoric and how he launched a withering arms race with his "Star Wars" missile defense program.

"Reagan bolstered the U.S. military might to ruin the Soviet economy, and he achieved his goal," said Gennady Gerasimov, who was the top spokesman for the Soviet Foreign Ministry during the 1980s.

Former West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl (search) said he would never forget standing next to Reagan when he challenged Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall. Reagan made the challenge in a speech at the concrete and barbed-wire barrier in June 1987.

"Ronald Reagan was a man who achieved great things for his country," Kohl said. "He was a stroke of luck for the world, especially for Europe."

Lech Walesa (search), the former Solidarity leader and Poland's post-communist president, recalled Reagan as a "modest" person whose opposition to communism was firmly rooted in a deeper hatred for inequity.

"When he saw injustice, he wanted to do away with it," Walesa told The Associated Press. "He saw communism, and he wanted to put an end to it."

Pope John Paul II (search) learned of Reagan's death with "sadness" during a trip to Switzerland and immediately prayed for the "eternal rest of his soul," Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said. The pope, a native of Poland, also recalled Reagan's contribution to "historical events that changed the lives of millions of people, mainly Europeans."

But Arab nations recalled the Reagan days as a dark period. The Reagan years marked the beginning of what Lebanon's culture minister, Ghazi Aridi, called a "bad era" of American Mideast policy that he said continues to this day.

Political analyst and former Syrian ambassador to the United Nations Haitham al-Kilani agreed.

"Reagan's role was bad for the Arab-Israeli conflict and was specifically against Syria. He was the victim of the Israeli right wing that was, and still is, dominating the White House," al-Kilani said.

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi (search) said he was sorry that Reagan died without standing trial for 1986 airstrikes he ordered that killed Gadhafi's adopted daughter and 36 other people.

Reagan ordered the April 15, 1986, air raid in response to a disco bombing in Berlin allegedly ordered by Gadhafi that killed two U.S. soldiers and a Turkish woman and injured 229 people.

"I express my deep regret because Reagan died before facing justice for his ugly crime that he committed in 1986 against the Libyan children," Libya's official JANA news agency quoted Gadhafi as saying Sunday.

Also, a Web site where Islamic militants often post their claims of responsibility for attacks on Americans has set up a special page for visitors to celebrate the death of former President Ronald Reagan. Most of the contributors, who clicked on the passage "Here is where you record your congratulations on the death of the infidel Ronald Reagan," expressed delight at his death.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's (search) office expressed sorrow over Reagan's death, calling him "a friend of the state of Israel."

In Central America, admirers praised Reagan for stopping the advance of communism but detractors said he pushed the region deeper into conflict.

In Nicaragua, Adolfo Calero, who opposed the leftist Sandinista government in the 1980s, said Reagan would be remembered as "a man of decisiveness and conviction, extremely pious and respectful."

But a Sandinista-allied official said Reagan will not be missed. "The country of Nicaragua surely will not ask for three days of mourning," said Tomas Borge, vice secretary of the Sandinista National Liberation Front.

El Salvador also fell within the Cold War ideological battleground for a Reagan administration determined to fend off leftist and communist-inspired insurgencies close to home.

"Reagan identified with our country, with its democracy and helped during the difficult moments," Salvadoran President Tony Saca said.

Politics aside, many world leaders past and present recalled Reagan's famous sense of humor.

"I attended five (Group of Seven) summits with him, and he would use his skillful humor and leadership to steer them to success," said Yasuhiro Nakasone, who served as Japan's prime minister from 1982 to 1987.

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (search) — Reagan's ideological soulmate and close friend — called Reagan "a truly great American hero."