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Bosnian peace accord diplomat Richard Holbrooke dies aged 69

Richard Holbrooke, the US diplomat who brokered the deal that ended the war in Bosnia, has died after emergency surgery on his aorta. He was the US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

US diplomat Richard Holbrooke

Holbrooke began his career during the Vietnam War

Richard Holbrooke, the US diplomat who brokered the Dayton Accords that ended the war in Bosnia in 1995, has died at the age of 69 after surgery to repair a tear in his aorta.

Most recently, Holbrooke, who also served as US ambassador to Germany in 1993 and 1994, was US President Barack Obama's representative in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He fell ill last Friday during a meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and had to be taken to hospital.

"He was a consummate diplomat, able to stare down dictators and stand up for America's interests and values even under the most difficult circumstances," Clinton said on Monday night. Her husband, former President Bill Clinton, said Holbrooke had "saved lives, secured peace and restored hope for countless people around the world."

Obama called Holbrooke a "true giant of American foreign policy, who has made America stronger, safer and more respected."

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen hailed his diplomatic skills. "I pay tribute to his strategic vision and legendary determination," he said.

Tenacious diplomat

Holbrooke and Hamid Karzai

Holbrooke's relationship with the Afghan president was not always easy

Holbrooke, who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize seven times, was born in New York on April 24, 1941 and became a US foreign service officer in the early 1960s. He quickly earned a reputation as a can-do diplomat with a blunt style.

In the Balkans he became known as the "bulldozer" and the "raging bull" because of the tactics he used to get sparring parties to the negotiating table.

After brokering the 1995 Dayton Accords, he returned as a special envoy to the region in the late 1990s when fighting broke out between Serbs and ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.

As the US representative in Afghanistan, Holbrooke oversaw a tripling in the number of civilians in the war-ravaged country in an effort to boost the country's agriculture, economy and civilian institutions.

His death comes ahead of a review of the civilian and military aspects of the nine-year-old allied intervention in Afghanistan, due to be published on Thursday.

Author: Nicole Goebel, Rob Mudge (Reuters, dpa, AFP)
Editor: Martin Kuebler

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