Noted Diplomat Richard Holbrooke Dies at 69

Obituaries | December 14, 2010, Tuesday // 08:18|  views

Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke is pictured here as he testifies before the Senate Foriegn Relations Committee hearing on 'Afghanistan Governance and Civilian Strategy' on in Washington, 14 July 2010. Photo by EPA

Richard C. Holbrooke, the diplomat who spearheaded the end of the Bosnian war and most recently served as the Obama administration's point man in the volatile Afghan-Pakistani war zone, has died, officials said.

The 69-year-old diplomat died Monday at George Washington University Hospital in Washington. He was admitted last Friday after feeling ill. Doctors performed surgery Saturday to repair a tear in his aorta.

One of the world's most recognizable diplomats, Holbrooke's career spanned from the Vietnam War era to the war against the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, coinciding with presidencies of the past five decades from John F. Kennedy to Barack Obama.

Holbrooke was best known for being "the chief architect of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement" that ended the Bosnian war -- the deadly ethnic conflict in the 1990s that erupted during the breakup of Yugoslavia.

He also worked as a journalist and an investment banker. But as a diplomat, he was plain-speaking, accessible, and known for his tough-mindedness.

President Obama called Holbrooke "a true giant of American foreign policy who has made America stronger, safer, and more respected."

"Tonight, there are millions of people around the world whose lives have been saved and enriched by his work," Obama said in a statement.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the nation had lost "one of its fiercest champions and most dedicated public servants."

"He was the consummate diplomat, able to stare down dictators and stand up for America's interests and values even under the most difficult circumstances," Clinton's statement said, later adding: "Few people have ever left a larger mark on the State Department or our country."

Referring to Holbrooke's notorious intensity, Clinton said that "true to form, Richard was a fighter to the end."

"His doctors marveled at his strength and his willpower, but to his friends, that was just Richard being Richard," Clinton's statement said.

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