Politicians across the world have paid tribute to Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh, who has died as a result of a knife attack in a Stockholm department store.
Lindh had headed the foreign ministry since 1998
As shocked Swedish citizens left red roses at the hospital where she died, an emotional Goran Persson - who many thought Lindh might succeed as prime minister - spoke of the great loss suffered by her family and the entire country.
He also praised Lindh as one of Sweden's true ambassadors to the world.
"Her family has lost a mother and a wife. Social Democracy has lost one of its most gifted politicians. The government has lost a skilled politician and a good colleague," he said on Wednesday.
"Sweden has lost its face towards the world."
United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan recalled how, in his last conversation with Lindh, she expressed sorrow for those killed in the bombing of the UN building in Baghdad last month.
"We mourned them together and now, incredibly, we mourn Anna," he said.
"I have... lost a close friend, and so has the United Nations."
European Commission President Romano Prodi ordered flags on all EC buildings to be flown at half-mast and praised the Swedish foreign minister as "courageous,
straightforward and honest".
"She was always very committed and very courageous and intelligent," he said.
"I remember my last meeting with her at Lake Garda last Saturday when, as always,
she left us with a smile to return to the euro campaign."
The European Parliament also paid tribute by observing a few moments silence.
"We will seek to maintain her commitment to European affairs. Let it be an example to us all," German Social Democrat Christa Randzio-Plath said.
'Active and committed'
French President Jacques Chirac telephoned Mr Persson personally to express "great sadness" at news of the minister's death.
The French Foreign Ministry later issued a statement praising Lindh for "her European engagement... as well as her determined activity as the head of Swedish diplomacy".
Lindh's counterpart in the UK, Jack Straw, spoke warmly of the minister, describing her as a good friend.
"She had this extraordinary ability to balance the demands of one of the most active of Europe's foreign ministers, in her role as one of Sweden's leading politicians, and that of someone who was completely committed to her family," he said.
German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer fought back tears as he told journalists of his sadness.
"Mrs Lindh was a great European, a great foreign minister and also a very good friend," he said.
And Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini summed up what many must be feeling, saying simply that "all of Europe" was in mourning.