Former Indian PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee passes away

Atal Bihari Vajpayee: Former Indian prime minister dies after illness aged 93

He was a close partner of the UK.

The country observed a seven-day state mourning as a mark of respect for the leader who was decorated with Bharat Ratna and was very popular.

Earlier Friday, supporters chanting "Long Live Vajpayee!" escorted his body from his home to the Bharatiya Janata Party headquarters where admirers came to pay their last respects. "He will be remembered as a politician who made a major personal contribution to the friendly relations and privileged strategic partnership between our countries".

Mr. Karzai was the first Afghan President to work with Prime Minister Vajpayee after the fall of the Taliban in 2001.

"Sub-continent has lost a phenomenal and a visionary political figure today", the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman said in a statement. He reminded that Mr Vajpayee had always regretted for not removing chief minister during Gujarat riots. "The government and people of Pakistan extend their heartfelt condolences to his family, government and people of India", the statement read.

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In many ways Vajpayee was a complicated figure, a leader of the moderate wing of India's often-strident Hindu nationalist movement and a lifelong poet who oversaw India's growth into a strutting regional economic power. Israel supplied key munitions and weapons to India in 1999 during the Kargil war as India battled Pakistani insurgents and army regulars. Foreign Office Spokesperson Mohammad Faisal and information ministry officials also accompanied the minister to the Indian capital.

Vajpayee was also considered one of India's best orators, enabling him to connect with millions of Indians across class and caste divides.

Japan's envoy to India, Kenji Hiramatsu also expressed grief over Vajpayee's death, stating that he was one of the most inspiring world leaders of our times.

"We have learnt with sadness the passing away of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, former Prime Minister of India, who was undergoing treatment in a hospital in New Delhi", the Foreign Office said in a statement.

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