Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang dies aged 61 - state radio

Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang greets journalists at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi Vietnam

President Tran Dai Quang died at the age of 61 on Friday, Vietnamese state media reported, adding that he'd passed away after battling a "serious illness".

Quang had passed away "despite efforts by domestic and global doctors and professors", Vietnam Television reported.

Quang became Vietnam's president following the 2016 Community Party Congress.

Prior to serving as president, Quang had been the head of the Ministry of Public Safety, the country's de facto security and intelligence service, which has been singled out by global critics of Vietnam's human rights record.

He had a reputation as a tough leader who was influential within the inner circles of the country's communist party.

Quang, also a politburo member, had appeared thin and pale in public in recent months, and was unstable on his feet last week when he hosted a welcoming ceremony for Indonesian President Joko Widodo in Hanoi.

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Quang was appointed to the role in April, 2016.

"However, despite all the efforts of the leading domestic and foreign physicians, he failed to recover", Vietnam's healthcare division of central officials said in the report.

He hosted South Korean President Moon Jae-in a year ago at the APEC Summit and again last March during President Moon's state visit.

Posts about the death of Quang, once tipped by some analysts as a potential general secretary, spread quickly on Facebook before state media took the rare step of announcing it within two hours of the event. It said Quang died at a military hospital in Hanoi but did not elaborate on his illness.

His time in office was dominated by a simmering conflict with Beijing over the South China Sea, a long-running dispute between the communist neighbours that escalated on several occasions. The Vietnamese leader was 61 years old. More than 40 people were jailed this year and some 100 have been behind bars as of April 2018, according to Amnesty International.

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