Ex-Viet Leader Pham Van Dong Dies
HANOI, Vietnam (AP) _ Pham Van Dong, an architect of Vietnam’s communist revolution, died a day before the 25th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War, officials said today. He was 94.
Dong, who served as prime minister through three decades of war and reunification, had been hospitalized on life support for months before his death Saturday, government officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity.
The officials said Dong died at a Hanoi hospital. With no newspapers Monday because of the May Day holiday, his death was expected to be officially announced Tuesday. A state funeral was planned for Friday.
Dong was among a few revolutionaries who wrested Vietnam from the French, then defeated U.S.-backed South Vietnam to bring the entire country under Hanoi’s rule on April 30, 1975. Official ceremonies to mark the anniversary were held Sunday in Ho Chi Minh City, the former Saigon.
While Ho Chi Minh was the visionary and father figure, and Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap was the battlefield hero, Dong was the diplomat and government organizer. He became prime minister of North Vietnam soon after independence in 1954 and headed reunified Vietnam in 1976-87.
In retirement, he was given the title of government adviser and used occasional speeches and essays to warn of the dangers of free-market economic reforms.
Increasingly frail and virtually blind in his final years, he made few public appearances. He emerged in December 1995 to meet with visiting Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk.
During the long war with the South, Dong was the North’s main spokesman to the world. While Ho and party chief Le Duan remained in the background, Dong met with the few foreign journalists and American anti-war activists who came to Hanoi, and stressed his government’s determination to keep fighting despite punishing U.S. airstrikes.