WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Richard Holbrooke, who was President Barack Obama’s special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, died yesterday, an administration official confirmed. He was 69.
The veteran diplomat, who brokered the 1995 peace agreement that ended the Balkans war, had been a key player in Obama’s efforts to turn around the faltering 9-year-old war in Afghanistan.
Holbrooke, who also served as the US ambassador to the United Nations and to Germany and twice was assistant secretary of state, died after surgery on Saturday to repair a tear in his aorta. He fell ill at the State Department on Friday.
Holbrooke was once called “Washington’s favourite last-ditch diplomat” and “America’s toughest diplomatic tactician” by Time magazine. His portfolio included serving as the US ambassador to the United Nations and Germany and he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize seven times.
Holbrooke joined Obama’s administration in 2009 as special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, a tough job coordinating the approach to trouble spots that are key foreign policy priorities for Obama.
Holbrooke had been very critical of President George W Bush’s Afghanistan policy. His position in the Obama administration was considered critical as the new president sought to crackdown on al-Qaeda and a resurgent Taliban in the region.