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UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The Security Council bid farewell Thursday to veteran diplomat Bernard Tanoh-Boutchoue, the Ivory Coast’s ambassador to the United Nations who died just months after starting a two-year term on the U.N.’s most powerful body.

Council members opened their meeting by standing in silent tribute to their 67-year-old colleague, who diplomats said became ill Tuesday and was taken to a hospital where he died Wednesday.

Peruvian Ambassador Gustavo Meza-Cuadra, the current council president, said the Security Council “with great shock and profound sadness acknowledges the sudden passing yesterday of our dear colleague and friend.”

Meza-Cuadra called him “a great diplomat” who was committed to ending “the suffering of millions of people affected by conflicts and humanitarian crises, especially in his dear continent of Africa.”

“There are no words to express our feelings of sadness upon this news,” Meza-Cuadra said.

Immediately before taking his post as Ivory Coast’s U.N. ambassador in September, Tanoh-Boutchoue was its envoy to Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan. Prior to that, he was ambassador to Russia as well as Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Latvia, Ukraine and Lithuania. Between 2008 and 2011, Tanoh-Boutchoue was ambassador to Egypt and Sudan. From 1996 to 2003 he was a counselor at the Ivory Coast’s U.N. Mission.

Tanoh-Boutchoue held a law degree from the University of Abidjan-Cocody and a bachelor of arts degree in modern literature from the University of Abidjan. He was married and had three children.

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley told the council “that we have lost the sweetest among all of us.”

“Bernard was kind, he was caring, he always had a smile on his face … (and) I have no doubt that he is telling jokes in heaven,” she said.