Pham Van Dong is an architect of Vietnam's communist revolution and served as prime minister through three decades of war and reunification.

Dong was among a few revolutionaries who wrested Vietnam from the French, then defeated the U.S. backed South Vietnamese to bring the entire country under Hanoi's rule on April 30, 1975.

Official ceremonies to mark the anniversary were held Sunday in Ho Chi Minh City, the former Saigon.

While Ho Chi Minh was the visionary and father figure, and Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap was the battlefield hero, Dong was the diplomat and government organizer. He became prime minister of North Vietnam soon after independence in 1954 and headed reunified Vietnam in 1976 to 1987.

In retirement, he was given the title of government adviser and used occasional speeches and essays to warn of the dangers of free market economic reforms.

Increasingly frail and virtually blind during recent years, he managed to emerge in December 1995 to meet with visiting Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk.

During the long war with the South, Dong was the North's main spokesman to the world. While Ho and party chief Le Duan remained in the background, Dong met with the few foreign journalist]s and American anti-war activists who came to Hanoi, and stressed his government's determination to keep fighting despite punishing U.S. airstrikes.

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