Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (right) with Meles Zenawi, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, in the capital Addis Ababa on 25 May 2011. UN Photo/Eskinder DebebeSecretary-General Ban Ki-moon today said he was deeply saddened by the death of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and offered his heartfelt condolences to Mr. Zenawi?s family and to the Government and people of Ethiopia.

?Prime Minister Zenawi will be remembered for his exceptional leadership and advocacy on African issues within and outside the continent, as well as for overseeing his country?s economic growth and development,? said a statement issued by Mr. Ban?s spokesperson.

The statement further expressed the Secretary-General?s gratitude for Mr. Zenawi?s strong support of UN peacekeeping and peacemaking operations. Ethiopian troops have regularly participated in UN peacekeeping deployments throughout Africa, including in Sudan, Liberia and Burundi.

?The Secretary-General will remember, in particular, Prime Minister Zenawi for his active commitment to working with the United Nations on numerous global peace and development challenges,? the statement continued, pointing to Mr. Zenawi?s recent important role in the ongoing negotiations between Sudan and South Sudan as well his work on the Millennium Development Goals and climate change.

According to media reports, Mr. Zenawi, 57, passed away on Monday of an undisclosed illness. He had been at the pinnacle of Ethiopian politics since 1991, when he served as President, before becoming Prime Minister in 1995.

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