Washington, DC - Secretary of State John Kerry: "I was saddened to learn of the passing of the Honorable former Prime Minister Edward Natapei this week. Vanuatu lost a distinguished statesman who will be dearly missed.

"Under the former Prime Minister's leadership, Vanuatu made great strides in increasing governmental transparency and sustainable economic development. He earned the praise of international organizations and partners alike. As Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum in 2010, he advocated forcefully for invigorated cooperation in counter-terrorism measures and the fight against transnational organized crime.

"The Universal Peace Federation recognized former Prime Minister Natapei’s excellence in leadership by awarding him the Leadership and Good Governance Award. This award further demonstrated his commitment to the promotion of harmony and cooperation in Vanuatu and the southwest Pacific region. His many years of illustrious service in the government of Vanuatu will be fondly remembered.

"On behalf of the people of the United States and President Obama, I express my deepest condolences."