Tributes paid to 'remarkable' diplomat Richard Holbrooke

Paula Fentiman,Pa
Tuesday 14 December 2010 10:30 GMT

Tributes were paid today to a "remarkable" US diplomat who helped bring peace to Bosnia.

Former prime minister Tony Blair joined American politicians in honouring Richard Holbrooke, who died in hospital at the age of 69 following emergency surgery for a torn aorta.

The veteran diplomat was the architect of the 1995 Bosnia peace plan, brokering the Dayton Peace Accords.

He also served as President Barack Obama's special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan

With a style which led to him being nicknamed the Bulldozer or Raging Bull, Mr Holbrooke served under every Democratic president from John F Kennedy to Barack Obama.

His career began with a foreign service posting in Vietnam in 1962 after graduating from Brown University.

Mr Obama described the diplomat as "a true giant of American foreign policy", adding he was "a truly unique figure who will be remembered for his tireless diplomacy, love of country, and pursuit of peace".

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: "Richard Holbrooke served the country he loved for nearly half a century, representing the United States in far-flung war zones and high-level peace talks, always with distinctive brilliance and unmatched determination."

Mr Blair said: "He was a remarkable man, a remarkable public servant and someone who contributed enormously to the cause of a more peaceful and just world.

"He will be deeply mourned by many people in many different nations."

New York-born Mr Holbrooke was admitted to George Washington University Hospital in Washington DC on Friday and had surgery on Saturday to repair a torn aorta.

Foreign Secretary William Hague described Mr Holbrooke as "truly one of the best and the brightest of his generation" who served the US "with distinction and integrity".

"Since I started in the job of Foreign Secretary, I have worked closely with Ambassador Holbrooke on Afghanistan and Pakistan, where he has played a key role in establishing and developing the international contact group to support stability and peace in the region. His work will continue," Mr Hague said.

"On behalf of the British Government and his many friends here in the UK, I send my condolences to Ambassador Holbrooke's family and to Secretary Clinton and the American people for this sad loss."

Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, the former British ambassador to Kabul, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I'm a great fan of Richard Holbrooke's, he is a giant. This is a tragedy for America and it's also a tragedy for Afghanistan and Pakistan."

He added: "He got Afghanistan in a way that few other policymakers do."

Prime Minister David Cameron said he was "deeply saddened" by Mr Holbrooke's death.

"He was a formidable force of American diplomacy - an indefatigable champion in the cause of peace, who worked tirelessly for a better world," he said.

"Most recently, his energies were devoted to finding a peaceful way forward for Afghanistan and her people.

"But he will always be remembered for his pre-eminent role in ending the vicious war in Bosnia, where his force of personality and his negotiating skill combined to drive through the Dayton peace agreement and put a halt to the fighting.

"He was a true public servant who will be greatly missed."

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