Tributes paid as former Israeli PM Sharon dies

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Ariel Sharon addresses the High-level plenary meeting of the 60th Session of the UN General Assembly (2005). UN Photo/Joshua Kristal

The United Nations Secretary-General has paid tribute to the former Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon who has died aged 85.

Mr Sharon had been in a coma for the last eight years following a stroke. Doctors at a hospital near Tel Aviv said he died on Saturday afternoon of heart failure.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that Mr Sharon dedicated his life to the State of Israel, calling him "a hero to his people, first as a soldier and then a statesman."

Mr Ban added that he would be remembered for his "political courage and determination" to carry through the "painful and historic decision to withdraw Israeli settlers and troops from the Gaza Strip."

He has called on Israel to build on what he described as Mr Sharon's "legacy of pragmatism" to work towards the "achievement of an independent and viable Palestinian state, next to a secure Israel."

Daniel Dickinson, United Nations.

Duration: 59″

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