The closer their countries to the Soviet Union, the more worried leaders seemed to be by Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze's resignation.

One exception was the hard-line communist government of China, whose Foreign Ministry would say only that Shevardnadze's dramatic announcement Thursday was "an internal affair of the Soviet Union. We will continue to develop friendly neighbor relations with the Soviet Union."Elsewhere, the announced resignation of the man who helped Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev end the Cold War provoked apprehensions about the future of the Soviet Union and its leader. Gorbachev said Shevardnadze agreed to stay on until a successor is chosen.

Germany, fearing that failure of the Soviet president's reforms could endanger East European stability, was especially nervous about Shevardnadze's resignation announcement.

"We can only hope that the reforms are carried out. They are good for the Soviet Union and they are good for the relationship between our people and for developments in Europe," said German Chancellor Helmut Kohl.

Germans credit the Soviets, in particular Gorbachev and his foreign minister, with clearing the way for Eastern Europe's sweeping reforms and German unification.

The foreign ministers of the 12-nation European Community, which recently pledged $2.8 billion in aid to the Soviets, received Shevardnadze's "with regret."

In Poland, which has a 700-mile border with the Soviet Union, Foreign Minister Krzysztof Skubiszewski said the internal situation there can "cause anxiety."

The prime minister of Soviet Lithuania, Kazimiera Prunskiene, told a news conference in Tokyo that her independence-minded republic is alarmed by Shevardnadze's resignation.

She said it may mean that progress achieved by the pro-perestroika forces is being turned back by conservative forces, including sections of the Communist Party and the military.

There was a worldwide outpouring of praise for Shevardnadze, a welcome guest in many capitals.

U.N. Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar told reporters, "On a personal basis, I regret this. He is a personal friend and he was very supportive of the United Nations."

Vatican Radio hailed Shevardnadze as the "great architect of the Soviet diplomacy that contributed to ending the Cold War."

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Nakayama said he was "really surprised by the sudden announcement. I would like to watch the situation calmly."

Secretary of State James A. Baker III called the outgoing minister his friend but said Gorbachev had assured him that Soviet foreign policy would continue on course.

American Gen. John R. Galvin, NATO's military commander in Europe, said bluntly, "The Soviets certainly face a bleak winter. I hope what we're hearing now doesn't make it any worse."