World leaders condole ‘real friend’ Pranab Mukherjee’s demise

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An ambulance decorated with the picture of former India's President Pranab Mukherjee and garlands drives into his residence ahead of Mukherjee's funeral, in New Delhi on September 1, 2020. - Former India president Pranab Mukherjee, a veteran powerbroker once described in leaked US diplomatic cables as "the ultimate Congress Party fixer", died on August 31 at the age of 84, his family said. (Photo by Sajjad HUSSAIN / AFP)

PTI

Washington/Dhaka

World leaders, including US President Donald Trump, have condoled the demise of former president Pranab Mukherjee, recalling the veteran politician’s significant contributions towards strengthening India’s bilateral ties and helping its rise as a global power.

Mukherjee died on Monday evening following a 21-day battle with multiple ailments. He was 84.

“I was saddened to learn of the passing of India’s former president, Pranab Mukherjee,” President Trump tweeted on Tuesday. “I send my condolences to his family and the people of India as they grieve the loss of a great leader,” he said.

Earlier, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US was deeply saddened to learn about the demise of Mukherjee.  “His visionary leadership helped drive India’s rise as a global power and paved the way for a stronger US-India partnership,” he said.

In neighbouring Bangladesh, a state mourning was observed on Wednesday in honour of its “real friend” Mukherjee. The government also recalled the former Indian president’s “outstanding and unforgettable” contributions to the country’s 1971 Liberation War and strengthening of bilateral relations.

All government, semi-government, autonomous and private institutions and Bangladesh missions abroad kept the national flag at half-mast to mourn the demise of the senior Indian leader.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina sent a letter to her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, saying ‘Bharat Ratna’ Mukherjee’s tireless work for the welfare of the people of India will inspire the future generation of leaders not only in India but across countries in the region.

Hasina called Mukherjee a “true friend” of Bangladesh and a guardian-like figure to her family.

Bangladesh President Abdul Hamid earlier expressed sorrow over Mukherjee’s demise, describing him as a “true friend” and recalling his “outstanding and unforgettable” contributions to the country’s 1971 Liberation War. “His demise has caused an irreparable loss to the political arena of the sub-continent,” Hamid said.

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on Wednesday paid his last respects to Mukherjee, describing the departed leader “a dear friend of Sri Lanka and its people.”

“The late president was a dear friend of Sri Lanka and its people. The absence of his friendly leadership would be felt by the Indian public, Sri Lanka and the entire world,” Mahinda said in his condolence message.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also condoled the death of Mukherjee and recalled with appreciation his commitment to reform, multilateralism and support to the world organisation.

Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan on Wednesday wrote in the condolence book at the High Commission of India in Singapore that Mukherjee, as a good friend of the country, made a significant contribution towards strengthening the bilateral relations under his leadership.

Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Nepal’s President Bidya Devi Bhandari and Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, and Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih were among other leaders who paid their tributes on the demise of Mukherjee.