David Cameron has paid tribute to Ethiopian prime minister Meles Zenawi who has died aged 57.

Mr Cameron described Mr Meles, who became president in 1991 and has been prime minister since 1995, as "an inspirational spokesman for Africa" on global issues.

"His personal contribution to Ethiopia's development, in particular by lifting millions of Ethiopians out of poverty, has set an example for the region," he said.

"Our thoughts are with his family and with the nation of Ethiopia. He will be greatly missed."

Former prime minister Gordon Brown said that with Mr Meles's death, the world's poor had lost one of their greatest champions.

"Ethiopia, one of the poorest countries in the world, made more progress in education, health and economic development under his leadership than at any time in its history, and it is a tragedy for the Ethiopian people that they have lost a committed leader and a champion of children at such a young age," he said.

"When I last saw him earlier this year we held meetings about how we would ensure every child would be in school in Ethiopia by 2015.

"His passion was in abolishing poverty and our hope is that he will inspire a new generation of men and women who will champion the cause of eradicating poverty."