Henry Kissinger, 91, undergoes heart surgery in New York

Hospital officials say the former US Secretary of State is 'resting comfortably' after undergoing an aortic valve replacement

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The Independent Online

Henry Kissinger, the former US Secretary of State, has undergone heart surgery at the age of 91, hospital officials in New York have confirmed.

The New York-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan released a statement saying the ex-diplomat was "resting comfortably" after undergoing an aortic valve replacement procedure on Tuesday.

Kissinger, a German-born Jewish refugee, fled to America from Nazi persecution in 1938 and went on to serve as a national security adviser and the Secretary of State under the Republican presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.

The Harvard graduate had a hand in the diplomatic opening of China, landmark US-Soviet arms control talks and expanded ties between Israel and its Arab neighbours. However, some opponents have branded Kissinger a “war criminal” for his support for anti-communist dictatorships, especially in Latin America.

In 1973, Kissinger was controversially awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for the Paris Peace Accords, which was intended to establish a cease-fire in Vietnam with his North Vietnamese counterpart, Le Duc Tho. Tho declined the award on the grounds that the truce had been violated.

After leaving government, Kissinger set up a high-powered consulting firm in New York.

He also has served on corporate boards and various foreign policy and security forums, written books and served as a media commentator on international affairs.