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Henry Kissinger, American diplomat and Nobel winner, dead at 100

Henry Kissinger called the titan of diplomacy whose work under two presidents shaped U.S. foreign policy for a lifetime, has passed away at the age of 100.

The diplomat—best known for serving as Richard Nixon’s secretary of state, kept a watchful eye on world affairs and visited Xi Jinping in Beijing in July of this year.

“Dr. Henry Kissinger, a respected American scholar and statesman, died today at his home in Connecticut,” his consultancy Kissinger Associates said in a statement on Wednesday.

Although his foreign policy decisions and their association with the doctrine of “realism” were controversial, he survived the resignation of Nixon in 1974 and continued to offer advice in that post to his successor, Gerald Ford.

His 1973 Peace Prize – awarded jointly to North Vietnam’s Le Duc Tho, who would decline it – was one of the most controversial ever. Two members of the Nobel committee resigned over the selection and questions arose about the US secret bombing of Cambodia.

Serving first as National Security Adviser to the Nixon administration, Kissinger was closely associated with the US policy of “Vietnamisation” in the 1970s, as the burden of the war transferred from American troops to Southern Vietnamese forces.

He was given the role of Secretary of State in 1973, serving for one year before becoming an informal adviser to presidents on foreign policy and running his own geopolitical consulting firm in New York City from 1982.

His influence in government waned under the next Republican president, Ronald Reagan, and he moved to international speaking events, private work and writing more than a dozen books.

He was invited to the White House to speak with every president – apart from Joe Biden – after Ford and celebrated his 100th birthday in May.

George W Bush, one of the first to pay tribute to Kissinger on Wednesday night, said he and his wife Laura would “miss his wisdom, his charm and his humour”.

“America has lost one of the most dependable and distinctive voices on foreign affairs with the passing of Henry Kissinger,” he said.

“I have long admired the man who fled the Nazis as a young boy from a Jewish family, then fought them in the United States Army.

“When he later became Secretary of State, his appointment as a former refugee said as much about his greatness as it did America’s greatness. He worked in the administrations of two presidents and counselled many more. I am grateful for that service and advice, but I am most grateful for his friendship.”

On Thursday morning, Dame Karen Pierce, UK Ambassador to the US, issued a statement saying she was “very sad” to hear of Kissinger’s passing.

Although influential, Kissinger’s legacy was controversial and he invited criticism from opponents of his policy on Vietnam, the bombing of Cambodia and the invasion of Timor-Leste in 1975.

In the India-Pakistan War of 1971, Nixon and Kissinger were heavily criticised for tilting toward Pakistan.

Kissinger was heard calling the Indians “bastards” – a remark he later said he regretted.

Winston Lord, a former US ambassador to China who served as Kissinger’s special assistant, said his former boss was a “tireless advocate for peace”. He added: “America has lost a towering champion for the national interest.”

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Sydney Okafor

I am so passionate about this my profession as a broadcast journalist and voiceover artists and presently a reporter at TV360 Nigeria

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