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France gives Legion of Honor award to former OECD chief

(Xinhua)

08:41, March 31, 2012

PARIS, March 30 (Xinhua) -- The French government awarded the country's highest decoration "Legion of Honor" to former Secretary-General of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Donald J. Johnston, the Paris-based organization said Friday.

"The award expresses the acknowledgement of French President Nicolas Sarkozy for Mr. Johnston's leadership in building cooperation between nations and cultures during his tenure as head of the OECD," the OECD said in a statement.

When presenting the award to Johnston, French Prime Minister Francois Fillon praised his "brilliant career" as the first non-European secretary-general of the OECD.

Congratulating his predecessor, incumbent OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria said, "Don began opening the OECD to new ideas and new countries. Under his stewardship, the Organization expanded its dialogue on matters of global concern such as education, health, and sustainable development."

Johnston, a lawyer, served as a cabinet minister in the Canadian government before being selected by OECD member countries to head the organization in 1996. He served two terms and was succeeded by Gurria in 2006.

"Legion of Honor" was created by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802 as a general military and civil order of merit. Admission into the Legion requires 20 years of distinguished service in military or civilian life with work that enhances the reputation of France through scholarship, arts, sciences and politics.

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