Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday left for Hanoi to attend the funeral of former Vietnamese president Le Duc Anh who led Vietnamese forces to overthrow Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge regime.
He was seen off at Phnom Penh International Airport yesterday afternoon by senior officials, including Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong, Bin Chhin, Minister in Charge of the Council of Ministers, and also Vietnamese Ambassador to Cambodia Vu Quang Minh.
Mr Hun Sen was accompanied to Hanoi by Defence Minister General Tea Banh, RCAF Commander in chief General Vong Pisen, Military Police Commander General Sao Sokha, Royal Cambodian Army commander Lieutenant General Hun Manet and other senior officials.
Mr Le, who served as Vietnam’s president from 1992 to 1997, died on April 22 in Hanoi following a long illness. He was 99.
He was born in 1920 and spent much of his life in southern Vietnam, where he joined the communist war effort against the French and then the United States. He also was one of the “liberators of Saigon” as deputy commander of the offensive that toppled the US-backed South Vietnamese government.
He was remembered for playing a commanding role in the liberation of Cambodia that drove Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge out of Phnom Penh in 1979 and earned him the nickname “Tiger of Cambodia”.
Meanwhile, National Assembly President Heng Samrin will lead a senior parliamentary delegation to pay respects to Mr Le at the Vietnamese Embassy in Phnom Penh today, his cabinet chief Keo Piseth said yesterday.
Mr Hun Sen last week sent a letter of condolence to the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee Nguyen Phu Trong over Mr Le’s death.
In the letter, Mr Hun Sen expressed his deep sorrow at hearing the news about the death of the Vietnamese general, who he described as “a leader with great contributions” to Vietnam’s national construction and development.
Before leaving for Hanoi, Mr Hun Sen yesterday posted on his Facebook page that Cambodia will always remember Mr Le’s contributions towards bringing down the Khmer Rouge.
“H.E Le Duc Anh was a statesman and played an important part in the history of Vietnam and Cambodia, because he was actively involved in the overthrow of Pol Pot’s genocidal regime.” he said.