Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang, the country's No. 2 after the ruling Communist Party's leader, died Friday after a serious illness, the government said. He was 61 and had been in the role since April 2016. Quang passed away despite "utmost efforts to treat him by Vietnamese and foreign professors and doctors and care by the party and state leaders," the statement said. The state-run online newspaper VnExpress quoted the head of a national committee in charge of leaders' health, Nguyen Quoc Trieu, as saying that Quang had contracted a rare and toxic virus in July last year and had traveled to Japan six times for treatment. He did not specify the virus, reports the AP. Trieu said the president lapsed into a deep coma hours after being admitted to the National Military Hospital 108 in Hanoi on Thursday afternoon.
"Japanese professors and doctors treated him and helped consolidate the president's health for about a year," Trieu said. "However, there are no medicines in the world that can cure the illness completely, instead it only could prevent and push it back for some time." Quang hosted President Trump during his first state visit to the communist country last year, and US Ambassador Daniel Kritenbrink praised Quang for his contributions to promote relations between the two former foes. But the deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch said that Quang would be remembered for "a multi-year crackdown on human rights and putting more political prisoners behind bars in Vietnam than any time in recent memory." Some 97 activists have been jailed as of April this year, according to Amnesty International. The National Assembly is scheduled to convene a session next month and expected to elect a new president.
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