Official media say Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang has died at age 61 due to illness on Friday, Sept. 21, 2018.
Mr. Quang died despite "utmost efforts to treat him by Vietnamese and foreign professors and doctors and care by the party and state leaders", a government statement said.
The Vietnamese president passed away from a "serious illness despite devoted treatment by professors and doctors" both in Vietnam and overseas, the official Vietnam News Agency said.
Rumours of his illness had circulated on social media for months, and there was no significant reaction in Vietnam's benchmark index.VNI.
Despite holding one of the top 4 positions of the country and officially being the head of state, Quang's role as President was considered to be largely ceremonial, greeting visiting leaders and hosting diplomatic events in a bid to boost Vietnam's profile on the world stage.
Quang was elected president in April 2016 with a reputation of being a tough leader with little tolerance for dissent. The reports did not provide further information about Quang's illness.
He hosted US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at an APEC meeting in November past year.
His death is not likely to dramatically alter politics in a country where the communist state oversees nearly every facet of society - although the death of a sitting leader is rare.
Adam Sitkoff, executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hanoi, said: "He was the first Vietnam president to meet with us, speak at a US-Vietnam business summit".
Reuters writes, "Originally from a small farming community [70 miles] south of Hanoi, Quang rose through party ranks to become a police general and member of Vietnam's powerful decision-making Politburo".
Quang did not appear in public for more than a month a year ago, raising speculation about his health. Some 100 political prisoners were behind bars as of April with more than 40 jailed this year alone, according to Amnesty International.