BOONE, N.C. -- Franklin Graham, president and CEO of Samaritan's Purse and Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, issued the following statement Monday afternoon about the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il:
"Having visited North Korea four times, most recently in May 2011, and worked in this difficult country for many years, I have maintained a special interest and concern for the people of this nation.
"The passing of the General Secretary Kim Jong Il gives the United States an opportunity as the people of the DPRK mourn the loss of their leader. We should be working to build stronger bridges of relationship and understanding with his son, Kim Jong Un.
"Harsh rhetoric will not solve the grave problems that the people on the Korean peninsula face. My prayer is that President [Barack] Obama will reach out to the DPRK's new leader and extend a helping hand to the people who are suffering through an early cold winter and serious food shortages. This could go a long way in easing tensions between the two nations and promote harmony and goodwill.
"Samaritan's Purse has worked in the DPRK for more than a decade providing essential medical, dental, emergency and nutritional relief. In September, Samaritan's Purse, USAID and partners airlifted 80 metric tons of emergency relief supplies for flood victims in the Provinces of North and South Hwanghae. In 2008, Samaritan's Purse was part of a collaborative effort that delivered some 71,000 metric tons of food to more than 900,000 people in the country. Since 1997, Samaritan’s Purse has provided some $15 million in emergency assistance to the people of North Korea. "
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