Dr Lobsang Sangay, the President of the Central Tibetan Administration, Dharamshala, India. Photo: TPI file

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Dharamshala, India — Leaders from across the world have expressed grief over the death of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and recalled his contributions in strengthening bilateral relations and maintaining regional peace. President Dr Lobsang Sangay referred to the former prime minister as one of the giants in Indian politics and also one of the strongest voices for Tibet.

Messages have started pouring in from across the world. President Dr Lobsang Sangay in his message of condolence stated that The former PM was vocal on Tibet issue as early as in 1959 when tragedy was unfolding in Tibet, then a leader of the Bharatiya Janasang Party, (BJS), advising then Indian government to deal firmly with China and that India cannot remain “a silent spectator to the tragedy that is being enacted on the roof of the world.”

The President of the Central Tibetan Administration, Dr Sangay offered condolence over the demise of Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, former Prime Minister of India. “Deeply saddened by the loss of Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ji. He was one of the giants in Indian politics and also one of the strongest voices for Tibet,” President Dr Sangay added.

Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile Ven Khenpo Sonam Tenphel on behalf of Tibetans, in and outside Tibet wrote, ‘Late Hon. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, recipient of the Bharat Ratna award, was loved and respected for being a genuine advocate of democracy in India. His leadership has unique quality of foresight and parity for the progress of India and its entire people. For no doubt, India has lost a great leader, leaving behind a big void in the Indian politics.’

Expressing his gratitude to the former Prime Minister of India, he further wrote, ‘Tibetan people are eternally grateful for his strong and consistent support for the cause of Tibet since from1950s. He had raised voice for Tibetan cause in and outside the perimeter of Indian parliament. The level of reverence that he has offered to His Holiness the Dalai Lama will always remain in our heart.’

US, UK, France and Russia were among the first to offer condolence messages. Nepal PM K P Oli's message to Sushma Swaraj, said: “Late Vajpayee was a visionary statesman with impeccable integrity and dedication. He will be remembered for his sagacity and exemplary selfless service to the people of India. In his demise, India and the world lost a towering political figure and Nepal a true friend and well-wisher. His contribution to strengthening Nepal-India relations will be remembered forever.”.

In a message, US secretary of state Mike Pompeo said, “Standing before the United States Congress in 2000, he famously characterised US-India ties as a ‘natural partnership of shared endeavours’. He recognised early on that the United States and India, based on their shared democratic values, could develop a partnership that would contribute to the economic prosperity and security of the region and the world. Today, our two countries and our bilateral relationship continue to benefit from Prime Minister Vajpayee’s vision....”

Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a message of condolence to President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi describing Vajpayee as an “outstanding statesman”. “Atal Bihari Vajpayee rightly commanded great respect around the world. He will be remembered as a politician who made a major personal contribution to the friendly relations and privileged strategic partnership between our countries.”

President of Maldives Abdulla Yameen's message of condolence said “We would fondly remember former Prime Minister Vajpayee for his contribution to human resource development in the Maldives, and for the memorable visit that he made to the Maldives during his tenure as the Prime Minister of India,” Yameen said in the message.

Mauritius PM Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, said in a message: “Shri Vajpayee shaped the destiny of India through his bold leadership and his deep-rooted empathy for the common man....” Mauritius lowered its own flag on Friday as a mark of respect.

Israeli foreign ministry’s director general Yuval Rotem said he was “deeply saddened to learn of the death of a giant”. He tweeted a a picture of Vajpayee shaking hands with former Israeli PM Ariel Sharon.

The French foreign ministry said in a condolence message, “Poet, politician, visionary, he left his mark on India’s history. His name remains linked to Indo-French friendship, which he shaped by launching the strategic partnership that has united our two countries since 1998.”

In his message to PM Modi, Mr Oli said: "Late Vajpayee was a visionary statesman with impeccable integrity and dedication. He will be remembered for his sagacity and exemplary selfless service to the people of India.

Vajpayee served as Prime Minister of India for three terms that began in 1996, 1998 and 1999. He was the first non-Congress, non-Gandhi Prime Minister to complete a five-year term. Known for his astute leadership, in 2014, the former PM was conferred with the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award.