UN's Ban hails Chavez's work for poor, Colombia peace

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon paid tribute to the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez on Tuesday, hailing his work on behalf of his country's poor and his support of Colombia's peace process.

"The secretary general was saddened by the death of His Excellency Mr Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias, President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela," Ban's office said in a statement after Venezuela announced Chavez's death.

"President Chavez spoke to the challenges and aspirations of the most vulnerable Venezuelans," he continued.

"He provided decisive impetus for new regional integration movements, based on an eminently Latin American vision, while showing solidarity toward other nations in the hemisphere," the statement said.

"His contribution to the current peace talks in Colombia between the Government of President Juan Manuel Santos and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia has been of vital importance."

Ban pledged that the United Nations would continue to work with Venezuela "in support of its development and prosperity" following the end of Chavez's 14 years of rule. The leftist leader died Tuesday after a long fight with cancer.

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