U Thant (/m/01w4h_)

Thant, known honorifically as U Thant was a Burmese diplomat and the third Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1961 to 1971; also the first one not from Europe. A native of Pantanaw, Thant was educated at the National High School and at the Rangoon University. In the days of tense political climate in Burma, he held moderate views positioning himself between fervent nationalists and British loyalists. He was a close friend of Burma's first Prime Minister U Nu and served various positions in Nu's cabinet from 1948 to 1961. Thant had a calm and unassuming demeanor which won his colleagues' respect. He was appointed as Secretary-General in 1961 when his predecessor, Dag Hammarskjöld died in an air crash. In his first term, Thant facilitated negotiations between U.S. President John F. Kennedy and Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev during the Cuban Missile Crisis, thereby narrowly averting the possibility of a global catastrophe. In December 1962, Thant ordered the Operation Grand Slam which ended secessionist insurgency in Congo. He was reappointed as Secretary-General on 2 December 1966 by a unanimous vote of the Security Council.
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