India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced the death of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, saying he passed away from an illness on August 16 at the age of 93.
Vajpayee, prime minister three times between 1996 and 2004, had been battling poor health for years. But his condition deteriorated rapidly in recent days.
He was being treated at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi, where he had been admitted nine weeks ago.
"Atal Ji’s passing away is a personal and irreplaceable loss for me," Modi said in a tweet on August 16. "It was Atal Ji’s exemplary leadership that set the foundations for a strong, prosperous and inclusive India in the 21st century."
In late 1998, Vajpayee began a push for a full-scale diplomatic peace process with Pakistan — an initiative that led to the 1999 Lahore Declaration with Islamabad.
The treaty helped ease tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbors and initiated a new peace process aimed at permanently resolving their dispute of the divided region of Kashmir. It also expanded trade relations and envisioned the goal of a denuclearized South Asia.
Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP
Source: Radio Free Europe