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Former UN Secretary General and Nobel Peace Laureate Dead at 80

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Former U.N. Secretary General and Nobel Peace Laureate Kofi Annan died Saturday morning.

Annan “passed away peacefully … after a short illness,” his family and the Kofi Annan Foundation said in a joint statement.

“Wherever there was suffering or need, [Annan] reached out and touched many people with his deep compassion and empathy,” the parties said.

Annan served as U.N. secretary general from Jan. 1, 1997, to Dec. 31, 2006, and was the first black African to occupy the post.

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The native Ghanaian was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001 for his work supporting human rights, his strong stance against terrorism and his efforts to stop the spread of HIV in Africa.

“Kofi Annan was a guiding force for good,” U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said in a statement. “It is with profound sadness that I learned of his passing. In many ways, Kofi Annan was the United Nations. He rose through the ranks to lead the organization into the new millennium with matchless dignity and determination.”

Annan orchestrated the repatriation of more than 900 individuals, as well as the release of Iraq’s western hostages after the country’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

He also negotiated an oil deal with Iraq for the provision of humanitarian aid.

“Kofi Annan dedicated his life to building a more just and peaceful world,” British Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said. “His efforts in support of conflict resolution and human rights will be remembered.”

The Nobel Peace laureate resigned seven months into his appointment as special envoy to Syria after failing to obtain peace in the country amid gridlock between U.N. Security Council powers.

Annan also supported efforts to introduce sustainable agriculture in Africa and stifle illegal drug trafficking.

“He brought considerable renown to our country by this position and through his conduct and comportment in the global arena,” Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo said. “He was an ardent believer in the capacity of the Ghanaian to chart his or her own course onto the path of progress and prosperity.”

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