India condoles death of Zambian President, a 'close friend'

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New Delhi, Aug 22 (UNI) India today expressed deep sorrow over the death of Zambian President Levy Patrick Mwanawasa, describing him as a ''close friend'' and saying that during his term in office, the two countries had strengthened and diversified historical ties.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee who visited the Zambian High Commission here and signed the condolence book, said Zambia and Africa had lost a great leader.

''The sad and untimely death of President Levy Patrick Mwanawasa is a cause of deep sorrow. Zambia and Africa have lost a great leader and patriot. During President Mwanawasa's term of office, India and Zambia strengthened and diversified their long-standing historical ties. India mourns the departure of a close friend,'' the External Affairs Minister wrote in the condolence book.

Mr Mwanawasa, who died on August 19 at the age of 59, had served as Zambia's President since 2002.

He suffered a stroke in June during an African Union summit in Egypt and was taken to a Paris hospital where he remained until his death.

UNI RB RR BD2005

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