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'A friend to thousands, a leader of millions' – former UN chief Kofi Annan dies aged 80

'A friend to thousands, a leader of millions' - former UN chief Kofi Annan dies aged 80Ghana announced a week of national mourning on Saturday following the death of Kofi Annan, as tributes came in from across global politics for the former Secretary General of the United Nations and Nobel Peace price winner. Annan, perhaps the world's most famous Ghanaian and a source of great national pride, passed away after a brief illness at the age of 80. A statement from the Kofi Annan foundation said he had passed away peacefully, with his wife Nane and  their children Ama, Kojo and Nina by his side. The career diplomat, who served Secretary-General from 1997 to 2006, is credited with raising the UN's international profile during his two terms and won over many world leaders with his "calm charisma". His early career was marked by the UN's failure to prevent civilians during the Rwandan genocide in 1994, when he was head of the body's peacekeeping division. He was later key in the development of the responsibility to protect doctrine, which was adopted in 2005 as a pledge by all member states to take action against genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. It is with immense sadness that the Annan family and the Kofi Annan Foundation announce that Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations and Nobel Peace Laureate, passed away peacefully on Saturday 18th August after a short illness… pic.twitter.com/42nGOxmcPZ— Kofi Annan (@KofiAnnan) August 18, 2018 Tributes to the West African diplomat poured in from politicians of all stripes on Saturday, among them Tony Blair, former Egyptian autocrat Hosni Mubarak and Javad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister. "I’m shocked and distressed to hear the news about Kofi. He was a good friend whom I saw only weeks ago. Kofi Annan was a great diplomat, a true statesman and a wonderful colleague who was widely respected and will be greatly missed," said Mr Blair. And, in a sign that Annan's appeal extended far beyond western liberal democracies, Mr Zarif wrote on Twitter: "Extremely saddened by passing of Kofi Annan, a toweing global leader and an unwavering champion for peace, justice and rule of law. Rest in peace my dear old friend." Russian President Vladimir Putin said: "I sincerely admired his wisdom and courage as well as his ability to make balanced decisions even under the most dire and critical circumstances." Current UN chief Antonio Guterres voiced deep sadness at the news, describing his predecessor, who was the first secretary-general from sub-Saharan Africa, as "a guiding force for good". Annan was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize along with the UN in 2001 "for their work for a better organised and more peaceful world". Former United Nations (UN) secretary-general Kofi Annan  Credit: Denis Balibouse/REUTERS "He rose through the ranks to lead the organisation into the new millennium with matchless dignity and determination," Mr Guterres added. "Like so many, I was proud to call Kofi Annan a good friend and mentor." Theresa May also paid tribute to the "great leader and reformer" in a post on Twitter. "Sad to hear of the death of Kofi Annan. A great leader and reformer of the UN, he made a huge contribution to making the world he has left a better place than the one he was born into. My thoughts and condolences are with his family," she said. In a statement to the Sunday Telegraph, Jack Straw, the former UK foreign secretary, paid tribute to Annan for "navigating the UN through the immense post-9/11 turmoil with consummate skill" and described him as a "truly great man." Sad to hear of the death of Kofi Annan. A great leader and reformer of the UN, he made a huge contribution to making the world he has left a better place than the one he was born into. My thoughts and condolences are with his family. pic.twitter.com/P0SWagShJM— Theresa May (@theresa_may) August 18, 2018 Tom Tugendhat, the chair of the UK parliament's foreign affairs committee, added: "Kofi Annan was one of the great international champions…his quiet voice was always worth hearing and we are all the poorer for his death." Born in Kumasi, the capital city of Ghana's Ashanti region, Annan was the son of an executive of a European trading company, the United Africa company, a subsidiary of the Anglo-Dutch multinational Unilever. After ending his second term as UN chief, Annan went on to take high-profile mediation roles in Kenya and in Syria. He later set up a foundation devoted to conflict resolution and joined the Elders group of statesmen which was founded by Nelson Mandela to promote universal human rights. The UN high commissioner for human rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said he was grief-stricken over Annan's death. "Kofi was humanity's best example, the epitome, of human decency and grace. In a world now filled with leaders who are anything but that, our loss, the world's loss becomes even more painful," he said. "He was a friend to thousands and a leader of millions."    



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Austria's Leader Wants An 'Axis' With Germany And Italy Against Migration

Austria's Leader Wants An 'Axis' With Germany And Italy Against MigrationThe leader of Austria's conservative and far-right coalition government on



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Pakistani Taliban leader killed in air strike in Afghanistan near border

Pakistani Taliban leader killed in air strike in Afghanistan near borderBy Rupam Jain and Jibran Ahmad KABUL/PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) – Pakistani Taliban leader Mullah Fazlullah has been killed in a U.S.-Afghan air strike in Afghanistan, a senior Afghan Defence Ministry official said on Friday, a killing likely to ease tension between the United States and Pakistan. An official at the NATO-led Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan confirmed Fazlullah was killed on Thursday. The U.S. military said earlier in Washington it had carried out a strike aimed at a senior militant figure in the eastern Afghan province of Kunar, which is on the Pakistani border, and one U.S. official said the target was believed to have been Fazlullah.



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The Latest: Tough prison term for Mexican drug cartel leader

The Latest: Tough prison term for Mexican drug cartel leaderATLANTA (AP) — The Latest on the sentencing of Edgar Valdez Villarreal, otherwise known as "La Barbie" (all times local):



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Hong Kong jails top independence leader for six years

Hong Kong jails top independence leader for six yearsHong Kong’s leading independence activist was jailed for six years Monday for his involvement in some of the city’s worst protest violence for decades. Edward Leung was convicted in May of rioting over the 2016 running battles with police, when demonstrators hurled bricks torn up from pavements and set rubbish alight in the commercial district of Mong Kok. Handing down his jail term, Judge Anthea Pang said Leung actively participated in the riots and described his actions as “wanton and vicious”.



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U.S.-backed Syrian forces arrest French Islamic State leader: SDF

U.S.-backed Syrian forces arrest French Islamic State leader: SDFThe U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said on Thursday they had arrested a French citizen who headed an Islamic State group in Syria and had been involved in the Paris and Nice attacks in 2015 and 2016. An SDF statement said the man arrested was Adrien Lionel Kayali and that he was born in 1983 and converted to Islam in 2003. French media have reported the captured man’s name as French citizen Adrien Guihal, wanted in connection with terrorist activities in France.



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Southern Baptist Leader Who Said Abused Women Should Just Pray Is Removed From Post

Southern Baptist Leader Who Said Abused Women Should Just Pray Is Removed From PostA prominent Southern Baptist Church leader who is known to have made



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US Anglican leader to give address at British royal wedding

US Anglican leader to give address at British royal weddingThe head of the Anglican church in the United States will give the main speech at the wedding of Britain’s Prince Harry and his US fiancee Meghan Markle, Kensington Palace announced Saturday. The Most Reverend Michael Bruce Curry, primate of the Episcopal Church, will deliver the address during the ceremony at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle, west of London, on May 19. “The love that has brought and will bind Prince Harry and Ms Meghan Markle together has its source and origin in God, and is the key to life and happiness,” said Curry.



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Episcopal Church leader to speak at royal wedding ceremony

Episcopal Church leader to speak at royal wedding ceremonyLONDON (AP) — Kensington Palace says the head of the Episcopal Church, the Most Rev. Michael Bruce Curry, will speak at the wedding of Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle.



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Jury convicts ex-Assembly leader in public corruption trial

Jury convicts ex-Assembly leader in public corruption trialNEW YORK (AP) — A jury convicted former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver of public corruption charges Friday, dashing the 74-year-old Democrat's second attempt to avoid years in prison after a decades-long career as one of the most powerful politicians in state government.



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