Kofi Annan, former head of the U.N., dies at age 80

Kofi Annan, a charismatic global diplomat and the first black African to become United Nations secretary-general who led the world body through one of its most turbulent periods, died early Saturday at age 80.

Tributes flowed in from around the world after his foundation announced his death in the Swiss capital, Bern, after a short and unspecified illness. The statement remembered the Nobel Peace Prize winner as "radiating genuine kindness, warmth and brilliance in all he did."He died "peacefully in his sleep," the president of Ghana, where Annan was born, said after speaking to his wife.

At U.N. headquarters in New York, the U.N. flag flew at half-staff and a bouquet of flowers was placed under Annan's portrait. Reflecting the widespread regard that won him a groundbreaking uncontested election to a second term, leaders from Russia, India, Israel, France and elsewhere expressed condolences for a man Bill Gates called "one of the great peacemakers of our time."