French ex-PM Michel Rocard dies aged 85

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PARIS: Former French socialist Prime Minister Michel Rocard, hailed a “visionary statesman,” died Saturday aged 85, his son Francis told Agence France-Presse. Rocard served as Prime Minister for three years from mid-1988 under Francois Mitterrand, the two-term socialist President who led the country from 1981 to 1995. Mitterrand appointed Rocard to succeed future center right president Jacques Chirac after a period of unprecedented left-right “cohabitation.” Rocard, noted for his pro-European stance, died in a Paris hospital, said Francis, an astrophysicist. President Francois Hollande paid tribute to a man he called “a great figure of the Republic and of the Left.”

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