October, 16 2012 10:06:13

Messages lament Sihanouk's death


Former Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk, a revered figure, (pictured here with Queen Monineath) died in Beijing yesterday aged 89. — AFP/VNA Photo
HA NOI (VNS) — Viet Nam's top leaders yesterday sent their condolences to Cambodian leaders over the death of former King Norodom Sihanouk.

The message was cabled by Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, President Truong Tan Sang, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and National Assembly Chairman Nguyen Sinh Hung to Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni, President of the Cambodian Senate Chea Sim, Chairman of the Cambodian National Assembly Heng Samrin, and Prime Minister Hun Sen.

"Viet Nam has lost a great friend who maintained close ties and given valuable support and fraternal sentiment to the Vietnamese people in the struggle for national independence in the past as well as in the current development of each nation," the message read.

"The Vietnamese Party, State, National Assembly, Government and people would forever be grateful for his valuable support, and was determined to exert every effort to continue building the fine neighbourliness, long-lasting traditional friendship and comprehensive co-operation which had long been nurtured by generations of the two countries' leaders and people," it said.

Vietnamese Minister of National Defence Phung Quang Thanh and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh also conveyed their condolences to Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Tea Banh and Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong.

Former king Sihanouk, a revered figure in his home country who had suffered from a number of ailments in recent years, died in Beijing yesterday, Chinese state media and close aides said.

"Norodom Sihanouk has died in Beijing," Chinese state news agency Xinhua said. The ex-monarch would have been 90 on October 31.

"Our former King died at 2am early yesterday in Beijing due to natural cause," Cambodian deputy prime minister Nhek Bunchhay told Xinhua by phone.

"This is a great loss for Cambodia.

We feel very sad. The former king was a great king that we all respect and love him."

Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni and Prime Minister Hun Sen flew to Beijing yesterday morning to receive Sihanouk's body for a traditional funeral in Cambodia, he added.

The monarch had been a frequent visitor to China, where he received the bulk of his medical treatment. He had been staying at his Beijing residence since January.

"He had heart problems. He was very steadily declining," said Sihanouk's personal assistant Prince Sisowath Thomico.

"It's painful. I am full of sorrow," he said. "King Sihanouk did not belong to his family, he belonged to Cambodia and to history."

One of Asia's longest-serving monarchs, the former king abruptly quit the throne in October 2004 in favour of his son, citing old age and health problems.

He had suffered from a series of ailments, including cancer, diabetes and hypertension as well as the heart problems. — VNS/AFP

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