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UN Security Council mourns Russian ambassador

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NEW YORK (AP) — The Latest on the death of Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations (all times local):

6:10 p.m.

The members of the U.N. Security Council say they’re deeply saddened by the death of Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin.

The U.N.’s most powerful body issued a statement Monday hours after Churkin’s unexpected death at age 64.

The Security Council is expressing condolences to Churkin’s family and his nation. He had been Russia’s envoy at the United Nations since 2006 and had been a diplomat for decades.

The cause of his death is unknown. Russia’s deputy U.N. ambassador says Churkin became ill in his office at Russia’s U.N. mission and was taken to a hospital, where he died.

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3:45 p.m.

Diplomats at the United Nations have held a moment of silence for Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin after his unexpected death.

U.N. General Assembly President Peter Thomson of Fiji called for the tribute at the start of an unrelated meeting Monday, hours after news of Churkin’s death emerged.

Thomson praised Churkin’s “great intellect,” ”consummate diplomatic skills,” good humor and consideration for others. Thomson said he’d found Churkin was always open to talking with colleagues, even those from small countries.

He says colleagues respected Churkin’s pride in serving his country and “the passion and, at times, very stern resolution that he brought to his job.”

Thomson says he plans a more extensive tribute to Churkin in future.

Churkin had been Russia’s envoy at the United Nations since 2006.

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2:45 p.m.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley is calling her late Russian counterpart “a gracious colleague” who skillfully represented his nation.

Haley released a statement Monday, shortly after Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin died unexpectedly in New York City at age 64. His cause of death wasn’t immediately known.

Haley arrived at the U.N. last month. She says that while she and Churkin didn’t always agree, “he unquestionably advocated his country’s positions with great skill.”

Churkin had been Russia’s envoy at the United Nations since 2006. He was the longest-serving ambassador on the Security Council, the U.N.’s most powerful body.

Diplomatic colleagues from around the world are mourning Churkin as a powerful and passionate voice for his nation, with a deep knowledge of diplomacy and a colorful personality.

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1:45 p.m.

Diplomatic colleagues are mourning Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin as a powerful and passionate voice for his nation, saying he had both a deep knowledge of diplomacy and a large and colorful personality.

Calling Churkin a “diplomatic maestro and deeply caring man,” former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power tweeted that Churkin had done all he could to bridge differences between the U.S. and Russia.

French U.N. Ambassador Francois Delattre, too, said he and Churkin had “always worked together in a spirit of mutual respect and personal friendship,” despite their divides. One of Delattre’s predecessors, Gerard Araud, recalled Churkin as “abrasive, funny and technically impeccable.”

Britain’s U.N. ambassador, Matthew Rycroft, tweeted that he was “absolutely devastated” to hear of the death of Churkin, “a diplomatic giant and wonderful character.”

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12:35 p.m.

Russian officials say its ambassador to the United Nations has died suddenly in New York City. Vitaly Churkin was 64.

Russia’s deputy U.N. ambassador, Vladimir Safronkov, told The Associated Press that Churkin became ill in his office at Russia’s U.N. mission and was taken to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, where he died Monday. His cause of death wasn’t immediately known.

Churkin has been Russia’s envoy at the United Nations for a little over a decade and was considered Moscow’s great champion at the U.N.

He had a reputation for an acute wit and sharp repartee especially with his American and Western counterparts. He was previously ambassador at large and earlier served as the foreign ministry spokesman.



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