Late on Monday, Vietnamese state media announced that General Le Duc Anh, a Communist party hardliner and former president, had passed away aged 99 “following a long illness”.
His legacy in Cambodia’s recent history remains a prominent one, with the general best remembered for his role commanding the liberation of Phnom Penh that would overthrow the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime of Pol Pot in 1979.
“At the time, the Khmer Rouge had plans to fight their way to Saigon,” he was reported as telling Vietnamese media in an interview in 2009.
“Without our support . . . how would the Cambodians have risen up to liberate their own country?” he added.
The general would go on to act as commander for the Vietnamese forces in Cambodia throughout the 1980s.
He played a central role in formulating the five key points for the defence of the Kingdom against Khmer Rouge re-infiltration and assisted in the development of the “K5 Plan” that attempted to seal guerrilla infiltration routes along the Thailand-Cambodia border between 1985 and 1989.
He served as Vietnamese president from 1992-97, and in 1995 he became the country’s first head of state to visit the US since the Vietnam War when he attended the UN’s 50th anniversary in New York.
A state funeral is likely to be held in the coming week.