UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- The U.N. flag at U.N. World Headquarters in New York Monday flew at half-staff to mark the death of the Emir of Kuwait.
Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah died over the weekend after a long illness.
A statement on behalf of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he was "deeply saddened to learn of the death."
"Designated prime minister in 1965 and crown prince in 1966, Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmed became the ruler of Kuwait in December 1977." the statement said. "He has served his country and people with distinction, guiding Kuwait towards modernization and prosperity.
"Under his wise leadership, Kuwait has achieved a high international standing, made progress towards more political freedom, women's rights and social justice," the Annan statement continued. "The emir has been at the forefront of maintaining the unity and stability of the country. During most difficult times he won the praise and gratitude for tirelessly working for restoration of Kuwait's sovereignty and independence."
The secretary-general said the emir "has been a father figure to Kuwaitis and will be remembered for his wisdom, modesty, generosity and kind attitude."
Annan extended best wishes of success to Sheikh Saad Al-Abdulla Al-Salem Al-Sabah as he assumes the duties of the emir.