U Thant, the former secretary-general of the United Nations, would have turned 109 today. During his 10-year-and-one-month tenure at the UN, U Thant criticized both West and East for actions and attitudes that he considered threatening to world peace. He helped defuse the Cuban missile crisis, which had brought the United States and the Soviet Union to the brink of nuclear war. He also helped end a civil war in Congo, among other achievements. The former secretary-general died of cancer in 1974 at the age of 65. The Irrawaddy commemorates U Thant’s 109th birthday with some rare pictures of his time at the UN, with his family and with international dignitaries.
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