U.N. pays tribute to North Korea's Kim Jong Il

The body of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is laid in a memorial palace in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Dec. 20, 2011. AP Photo/Kyodo News

UNITED NATIONS - The U.N. General Assembly paid tribute to North Korea's late leader Kim Jong Il on Thursday by observing a minute of silence in his memory.

There were no speeches and the chamber of the 193-member world body was half empty.

At the start of Thursday afternoon's meeting, Assembly President Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser told diplomats it was his "sad duty" to report that Kim died on Saturday.

He asked North Korea's ambassador "to convey condolences" to his country's government and people and then invited diplomats "to stand and observe a minute of silence in tribute to the memory of the late leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea."

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All diplomats then rose, and North Korea's Ambassador Sin Son Ho and several others bowed their heads.

Al-Nasser said North Korea's U.N. Mission asked for the General Assembly tribute, which is customary for leaders who die in office.

U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro went to North Korea's U.N. Mission on Tuesday and signed the condolence book for Kim on behalf of the United Nations system.

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