AFP Obit on Kate Webb

Legendary foreign correspondent Kate Webb, who covered the key events that shaped modern Asia over the past four decades, died Sunday, May 13, 2007, after a battle with cancer, her brother said. She was 64.

Webb, who worked for Agence France-Presse for 16 years, was one of the best-known and most respected international journalists to cover Asia between the 1960s and the turbulent dawn of the 21st century.

"She passed away peacefully this afternoon", Jeremy Webb said. The veteran reporter was surrounded by her family in the Sydney hospital where she spent the last weeks of her life.

Webb was diagnosed with bowel cancer about six months ago, and the malignancy quickly spread.

Kate Webb at work at AFP

The New Zealand-born Webb started out in journalism in Australia in the early 1960s but quit her job in 1967 and paid her way to Saigon, where she became one of only a handful of women to cover the Vietnam war full-time.

"Kate Webb was one of the earliest -- and best -- women correspondents of the Vietnam war," said Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Peter Arnett.

"She was fearless as an action reporter, with a talent for the vivid phrase," he said.

AFP Asia-Pacific director Eric Wishart said Webb -- who worked for AFP in Indonesia, India, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Hong Kong and South Korea -- was extraordinary both on and off the battlefield.

"Kate was one of the great war correspondents and a remarkable personality," he said. "She was an inspiration to generations of young journalists, and she also had a very human, caring side."

Webb worked for the United Press International news agency for about 13 years. She was hired as a freelancer after she arrived in Saigon, now Ho Chi Minh City, in 1967.

In 1985 she joined AFP's Jakarta bureau following a stint as a freelancer in Indonesia, and she went on to cover virtually every major story in Asia for the agency until her retirement in 2001.

Webb, who never married, is survived by her sister Rachel Miller and her brother Jeremy.