'A great American hero - missed by millions who live in freedom today'

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The Independent US

World leaders paid tribute to former president Ronald Reagan last night.

World leaders paid tribute to former president Ronald Reagan last night.

A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said the Queen was saddened by the news while Downing Street described him as a good friend of Britain.

"At home, his vision and leadership restored national self-confidence and brought some significant changes to US politics, while abroad, the negotiation of arms control agreements in his second term and his statesman-like pursuit of more stable relations with the Soviet Union helped bring about the end of the Cold War," said a spokesman for Mr Blair.

President George Bush said: "This is a sad hour in the life of America. A great American life has come to an end.

"Ronald Reagan won America's respect with his greatness, and won its love with his goodness. He had the confidence that comes with conviction, the strength that comes with character, the grace that comes with humility, and the humour that comes with wisdom.

"He leaves behind a nation he restored and a world he helped save. During the years of president Reagan, America laid to rest an era of division and self-doubt. Because of his leadership, the world laid to rest an era of fear and tyranny.

"Now, in laying our leader to rest, we say thank you.

"He always told us that for America, the best was yet to come. We comfort ourselves in the knowledge that this is true for him, too. His work is done. And now a shining city awaits him."

Baroness Thatcher, a personal and political friend who once described Mr Reagan as the second most important man in her life, said he had been a great American hero.

"He will be missed not only by those who knew him and not only by the nation that he served so proudly and loved so deeply, but also by millions of men and women who live in freedom today because of the policies he pursued," she said last night.

"Ronald Reagan had a higher claim than any other leader to have won the Cold War for liberty and he did it without a shot being fired. To have achieved so much against so many odds and with such humour and humanity made Ronald Reagan a truly great American hero."

The current Conservative leader Michael Howard said the former president was "one of the towering figures of our time, the man who with Margaret Thatcher won the Cold War for the West.

"It is so sadly ironic that he should have died as we prepare to commemorate the 60th anniversary of D-Day - the day when the Allies began the liberation of Europe.

"We in Britain, as in so many other places around the world, owe him an ever-lasting debt."

President Jacques Chirac expressed sadness, hailing him as a "great man of state" who would leave his mark on history. A statement from the President's office said: "He salutes the memory of a great man of state who, through the force of his convictions and his commitment in favour of democracy, will leave a profound mark on history."

Lord King, the former Secretary of State for Defence, said Mr Reagan had been greatly underestimated. "He was, in the end, a very effective president," he said.

THE 'GREAT COMMUNICATOR' SAID:

Mr Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall.

In Berlin, to the then Soviet leader, 1987

Where's the rest of me?

From 'King's Row', his most famous movie line

Government is just like a big baby - an alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other.

In 1965

The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'

August, 1986

I hope you're all Republicans.

To surgeons as he entered the operating room, 1981

We don't have a trillion-dollar debt because we haven't taxed enough. We have a trillion-dollar debt because we spend too much.

March, 1982

Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidise it.

White House conference on small business, 1986

How do you tell a Communist? Well, it's someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It's someone who understands Marx and Lenin.

September, 1987

A friend of mine was asked to a costume ball a short time ago. He slapped some egg on his face and went as a liberal economist.

February, 1988

WHAT THE WORLD SAID OF REAGAN

Now here you have a really good actor and they say 'Hey, that was a great president'. What they should have said was 'He deserves the Academy Award'.

Gore Vidal, writer

From time to time, people would ask me 'What's he really like?' My reply was ... he's exactly the way you see him. There is no difference between the public and private man. He is happy and wants other people to be happy.

Caspar Weinberger, Reagan's Defense Secretary from 1981-87

Poor dear. There's nothing between his ears.

Margaret Thatcher

It's the whole cowboy thing again. But Reagan is beginning to look like an old softie - a day at the beach - compared to Bush.

Comedian Kate Clinton

One could not talk to him for more than a few minutes without being aware of the ordinariness of his mind.

Helmut Schmidt, former West German chancellor

He doesn't make snap decisions, but he doesn't over-think either.

Nancy Reagan

From the strong fortress of his convictions, he set out to enlarge freedom the world over at a time when freedom was in retreat - and he succeeded.

Margaret Thatcher

Under President Ronald Reagan, the nation stayed strong and resolute and made possible the end of the Cold War.

Jimmy Carter

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