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Family and friends gather in Cologne for Guido Westerwelle's funeral

Family, friends and colleagues are mourning the death of the former foreign minister, who succumbed to leukemia. Westerwelle was respected for both his personal courage and his political savvy.

A funeral service for Westerwelle was held on Saturday at the Basilica of the Holy Apostles in Cologne, a little over two weeks after the former foreign minister passed away.

Among the attendees were Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Joachim Gauck, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and North Rhine-Westphalia state premier Hannelore Kraft, according to German news agency DPA.

Speaking at the funeral, Merkel praised Westerwelle, calling him "contentious, sensitive, thoughtful, reliable, faithful."

Following the service, Westerwelle will be buried in the Melaten Cemetery in Cologne.

Deutschland Trauerfeier für Guido Westerwelle in Köln

Gauck and North Rhine-Westphalia state premier Hannelore Kraft attend the service

History-maker

The 54-year-old Westerwelle

died last month

after battling leukemia for over a year. Apart from serving as foreign minister under Merkel from 2009 to 2013, Westerwelle also made history by being the first openly gay cabinet minister.

"I have never lived my life in the closet - I just didn't put it in the shop window. I lived it normally," he said following his public "coming out" in 2004.

Additionally, Westerwelle served as the head of the Free Democrats (FDP) from 2001 to 2011. He retired from politics in 2013 after the party lost all of its seats in the German parliament.

blc/jlw (dpa, AFP)

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