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Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang dead at 61: state media

Vietnam's President Tran Dai Quang died

Friday at age 61 after a prolonged and serious illness, state media reported.

He passed away from a serious illness despite devoted treatment by

professors and doctors both in Vietnam and abroad, the official Vietnam News

Agency said.

In office as president since April 2016 after more than four decades at the

powerful Ministry of Public Security, Quang had a reputation as a tough

leader with little tolerance for dissent.

Though he held one of the country's top four positions and was officially

the head of state, his role as president was seen as largely ceremonial,

greeting visiting leaders and hosting diplomatic events in a bid to boost

Vietnam's profile on the world stage.

Quang had appeared thin and pale in public, and was unstable on his feet

last week when he hosted a welcoming ceremony for Indonesian President Joko

Widodo in Hanoi last week.

His last public appearance was just two days ago, at a meeting with

visiting Chinese politicians and foreign dignitaries in Hanoi.

Quang, a member of the Politburo, had a reputation as tough and influential

in the inner circles of the communist party, though often appeared

uncomfortable in the public eye and lacked the charisma of some of his peers

in the upper echelons of the party.

In an interview with AFP in 2016 ahead of a visit by the former French

leader Francois Hollande, Quang read from a prepared statement and was

quickly escorted from the room by staff when a question went off-script.

State media made a somber announcement of his death Friday and celebrated

his long commitment to public service.

His time in office was dominated by a simmering conflict with Beijing over

the South China Sea, a long-running dispute between the communist neighbours

that escalated on several occasions.

Vietnam cancelled at least one oil drilling project in the resource-rich

region during Quang's tenure in an apparent bid to quell tensions.

He was the administration's most public face at a series of high-profile

events, most notably at an APEC meeting in Danang in November last year where

he hosted a bevy of world leaders � including US President Donald Trump and

China's Xi Jinping.

As president, he oversaw a crackdown on dissidents that rights groups have

decried as a chokehold on free expression. More than 40 people were jailed

this year and some 100 have been behind bars as of April 2018, according to

Amnesty International.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)