India’s Vajpayee, who set off nuke race and peace, has died

India’s Vajpayee, who set off nuke race and peace, has died

Pakistan on Thursday condoled over the demise of former Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee who breathed his last on the day in New Delhi.

Vajpayee was admitted to hospital on June 11 with a kidney tract infection and chest congestion.

. He had suffered a stroke in 2009, which reportedly weakened his cognitive abilities, following which he developed dementia. As his health failed, Vajpayee stayed out of the limelight even when the BJP returned to power a decade later and Narendra Modi became prime minister.

In May 1998, with barely two months in office as prime minister, Vajpayee presided over the Pokhran-II nuclear tests, in which India detonated nuclear bombs in the Rajasthani desert.

However, he was later involved in a groundbreaking peace process with Islamabad.

Vajpayee, a three-time prime minister, died on Thursday aged 93.

Vajpayee's visit to the United States in September 2000 was a landmark one in many ways.

Earlier Friday, supporters chanting "Long Live Vajpayee!" escorted his body from his home to the Bharatiya Janata Party headquarters where admirers came to pay their last respects. Prime Minister Narendra Modi walked the entire four km stretch behind the flower-decked gun carriage, along with other top BJP leaders and ministers.

"The American people and I stand with the people of India as we mourn Prime Minister Vajpayee's passing".

India and the United States would go on to sign a landmark civil nuclear deal in 2008 under the watch of a different Indian prime minister, Manmohan Singh, in an initiative that President Bush had pushed relentlessly, according to several former USA officials.

Vajpayee boosted trade with the United States, and he helped organize a 2000 visit to Delhi by President Bill Clinton, the first American president to visit India since Jimmy Carter did so in 1978. He went on to launch another phrase that would come to be used widely for describing the India-US relationship during his tenure - "the defining partnership of the 21st century". He further said that Indians will reflect on Vajpayee's many contributions that led to the country's rise as a global and economic power.

"As a mark of respect to the departed dignitary, it has been decided that seven days of State mourning will be observed throughout India from 16 to 22 August, both days inclusive". His condition is "very critical", a statement from the AIIMS says.

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