Obama, Clinton mourn death of special envoy Holbrooke

14:04, December 14, 2010      

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U.S. special representative to Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke reacts during a news conference in Kabul in this October 27, 2010 file photograph. (Xinhua/Reuters File Photo)

U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday evening mourned the death of special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke, who just died of illness at the age of 69.

U.S. State Department said the veteran diplomat passed away Monday evening at a Washington hospital following four days of struggle with a torn aorta. He was surrounded by his wife Kati, his sons David and Anthony, his step-children Elizabeth and Chris Jennings and other family members.

"(First lady) Michelle and I are deeply saddened by the passing of Richard Holbrooke, a true giant of American foreign policy who has made America stronger, safer, and more respected," Obama said in a statement. "He was a truly unique figure who will be remembered for his tireless diplomacy, love of country, and pursuit of peace."

Obama noted that Holbrooke worked as a young foreign service officer during the Vietnam War and then supported the Paris peace talks which ended the war.

"As a young assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, he helped normalize relations with China," Obama dwelled on the experience of his special envoy. "As U.S. ambassador to Germany, he helped Europe emerge from a long Cold War and encouraged NATO to welcome new members. As assistant secretary of state for European and Canadian affairs, he was the tireless chief architect of the Dayton Accords that ended the war in Bosnia 15 years ago this week, saving countless lives."

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