Governments across Asia are praising outgoing U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell as a bridge-builder who helped create consensus despite gaping differences. Washington's top diplomat is being hailed as one who was able to maintain good relations both with those who agree with U.S. policy, and those who oppose it.

Praise for Colin Powell came quickly from the Japanese, who have perhaps been the most steadfast supporters in Asia of President Bush's policy in Iraq.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda, who expressed regret that Mr. Powell will not be staying on for a second term:

Mr. Hosoda says he is disappointed that Mr. Powell is leaving. He describes the U.S. diplomat as a "well-balanced Secretary of State who did a great job."

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi expressed his "heartfelt" respect for Mr. Powell's efforts and achievements as secretary of state.

China, which heavily criticized Washington for leading the invasion of Iraq in the face of U.N. opposition, had similar praise for Mr. Powell. Speaking to reporters while traveling in Brazil, Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing called the Secretary of State "a good friend."

Responding to reports that National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice will succeed Mr. Powell, the Chinese diplomat said he expected no change in Beijing's relations with Washington.

Mr. Li says that no matter what happens, China will continue to support the development of an amicable and cooperative relationship between China and the United States.

As host of three rounds of multi-party negotiations, China has been key to the U.S. attempt to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis through diplomatic means. Officials in Beijing on Tuesday said cooperation on that issue would continue.

In South Korea, where the government favors a tempered approach to Pyongyang, officials expressed regret at news of Mr. Powell's resignation.

One senior official with South Korea's foreign ministry was quoted by South Korean media as saying officials expect his departure to "deal a blow" to Seoul's efforts to seek reconciliation with the North.