European officials hailed outgoing US Secretary of State Colin Powell, who resigned along with four other American cabinet members on Monday.
Won over Europeans by being the most moderate of the Bush team
Prime Minister Tony Blair led the way among European leaders on Monday, praising Powell as a "remarkable man" and a long-time "good friend" of Britain.
His Foreign Secretary Jack Straw added to the compliments, saying it "had been a joy to work" with Powell.
“I am confident that whoever President Bush appoints to succeed Secretary Powell will be somebody with whom the UK government will be able to work very closely and with whom I will be able swiftly to have a good working relationship,” said Straw.
Fischer's close friend
The former four-star general was widely perceived as the Bush administration cabinet member most sympathetic to European views. In his book "Plan of Attack", journalist Bob Woodward depicted Powell as the person in Bush's foreign policy team most critical of the administration's march towards a military invasion of Iraq, something that endeared him to European opponents of the war.
German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer considered Powell a close friend as well as a colleague. Speaking to reporters following Powell's resignation, Fischer said the Secretary was a man who understood Germany very well, from his time here as a soldier. Despite policy differences between the two countries, Fischer said he never found it difficult to communicate with his counterpart.
German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said they worked "always as friends"
"I want to thank him," said German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer. "We worked very closely together and even in the most critical issues, always as friends ... I wish him all the best in the future."
Submitted resignation on Friday
Powell, 67, who had major differences with hawkish members of the Bush administration over Iraq, submitted his resignation as US secretary of state last Friday, the department revealed earlier Monday.
He has agreed to stay on at his post until a replacement has been found, according to a State Department official in Washington who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The former four-star US army general, who chaired the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Gulf War of 1990, has been mentioned as a possible new US ambassador to Britain.
Blair was in Washington last Thursday and Friday for talks with Bush focusing on Iraq and prospects for reviving the Middle East peace process after the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.