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Reaction to the death of Richard Holbrooke

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Holbrooke's impact
  • Former Afghan foreign minister: Holbrooke worked "objectively, professionally and patriotically"
  • Pakistani ambassador: Holbrooke said he would work "As long as I can make a difference"
  • Bill Clinton: "Our nation is safer, our world stronger, because of the work he did"
  • Joe Biden: "Richard Holbrooke ... helped bend the curve of history in the direction of progress"

(CNN) -- Richard C. Holbrooke, the high-octane diplomat who spearheaded the end of the Bosnian war and most recently served as the Obama administration's point man in the volatile Afghan-Pakistani war zone, died Monday at George Washington University Hospital in Washington. Following are reactions to his death:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

"Tonight, America has lost one of its fiercest champions and most dedicated public servants. Richard Holbrooke served the country he loved for nearly half a century, representing the United States in far-flung war-zones and high-level peace talks, always with distinctive brilliance and unmatched determination. He was one of a kind -- a true statesman -- and that makes his passing all the more painful. From his early days in Vietnam to his historic role bringing peace to the Balkans to his last mission in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard helped shape our history, manage our perilous present, and secure our future. He was the consummate diplomat, able to stare down dictators and stand up for America's interests and values even under the most difficult circumstances. He served at every level of the Foreign Service and beyond, helping mentor generations of talented officers and future ambassadors. Few people have ever left a larger mark on the State Department or our country. From Southeast Asia to post-Cold War Europe and around the globe, people have a better chance of a peaceful future because of Richard's lifetime of service."

President Barack Obama

"For nearly 50 years, Richard served the country he loved with honor and distinction. He worked as a young foreign service officer during the Vietnam War and then supported the Paris peace talks, which ended that war. As a young assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, he helped normalize relations with China. As U.S. ambassador to Germany, he helped Europe emerge from a long Cold War and encouraged NATO to welcome new members. As assistant secretary of state for European and Canadian affairs, he was the tireless chief architect of the Dayton Accords that ended the war in Bosnia 15 years ago this week, saving countless lives. As ambassador to the United Nations, Richard helped break a political impasse and strengthen our nation's relationship with the UN and elevated the cause of AIDS and Africa on the international agenda. And throughout his life, as a child of refugees, he devoted himself to the plight of people displaced around the world."

Vice President Joe Biden, former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

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Holbrooke a 'giant of American policy'

"Today, I lost a great friend, and America lost one of its greatest warriors for peace. Richard Holbrooke was a larger than life figure who, through his brilliance, determination and sheer force of will, helped bend the curve of history in the direction of progress. He touched so many lives and helped save countless more. He was a tireless negotiator, a relentless advocate for American interests and the most talented diplomat we've had in a generation."

Commander Gen. David Petraeus, commanding general of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan

"This is a tragic loss for our country, this region and our world. Richard Holbrooke was a true titan in the diplomatic arena and a central figure in the effort in Afghanistan and Pakistan. It was a privilege to work closely with Ambassador Holbrooke when I was at CENTCOM and then as the commander here in Afghanistan. Indeed, it was with considerable pride that we called him our 'diplomatic wingman.' He was, in short, a tremendous diplomatic partner, a great American and a good friend. Our thoughts are with Kati and his family."

Former President Bill Clinton

"In a lifetime of passionate, brilliant service on the front lines of war and peace, freedom and oppression, Richard Holbrooke saved lives, secured peace and restored hope for countless people around the world. (Wednesday) marks the 15-year anniversary of the signing of the Dayton Accords -- the agreement Dick negotiated, which stopped the killings in Bosnia and paved a path to peace in the Balkans that endures today. He was central to our efforts to limit ethnic cleansing in Kosovo and pave the way for its independence, and he found a way to break the stalemate in talks in Cyprus. I was proud to nominate him as the United States' ambassador to the United Nations, where he helped equip the UN to meet the challenges of our 21st-century world. For the last two years, he worked hard to counter terrorism and to build a secure, democratic future for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Our nation is safer, and our world stronger, because of the work he did. I will miss my friend very much."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky

"Yesterday, America lost one of the most talented and dedicated diplomats it has ever produced. Richard Holbrooke began his diplomatic service several decades ago as a young foreign service officer in Vietnam. The storied career that followed spanned the globe and will remain an integral part of the diplomatic history of our nation. Richard will always be remembered for pursuing the hardest missions, whether negotiating the Dayton Accords which helped to end the war in Bosnia or his immensely difficult final assignment as special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Ambassador Holbrooke doggedly pursued what in his view best enhanced the diplomacy and national security objectives of our nation. We honor his legacy of service to America's foreign policy and interests by continuing his efforts to help Afghanistan deny the Taliban a return to power, and to disrupt, defeat and dismantle Al Qaeda."

Madeleine Albright, former secretary of state

"With the death of Richard Holbrooke, we have all lost a tremendous and devoted advocate for peace, diplomacy and human rights. I had the honor and privilege of working with Richard through many international crises over several decades, most particularly the wars in Bosnia and Kosovo. He could always be counted on for his imagination, dedication and forcefulness. He was a tireless defender of democracy and freedom, and continued working on these issues in Afghanistan and Pakistan until his final days. Above all, he loved our country. His death is a blow to American diplomacy and the goals to which he dedicated his life. All of his friends will miss his energy and determination. I am deeply saddened, and my thoughts and prayers are with his wife Kati and his entire family."

Samuel Berger, former national security adviser

"I am deeply saddened by the death of Richard Holbrooke, a remarkable public servant and a dedicated force for good. Richard was an unrelenting advocate for peace, a superb diplomat and a dear friend. My thoughts and prayers are with his family."

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari

"Pakistan has a lost a friend. He was an accomplished and experienced diplomat who quickly gained the confidence of interlocutors. He was a key player in international diplomacy to bring peace to Bosnia and in confronting militancy in our part of the world. His services will be long remembered. The best tribute to him is to reiterate our resolve to root out extremism and usher in peace. My thoughts are with his wife and family. May his soul rest in eternal peace."

Hussain Haqqani, Pakistani ambassador to the United States

"In Richard Holbrooke's passing, the world has lost a great diplomat while I have lost a personal friend and professional role model. Ambassador Holbrooke showed great compassion for the people of Pakistan and was a strong supporter of Pakistan's progress and security as a modern Muslim democratic country. His attitude towards diplomacy was reflected in his response to my question at our breakfast on Thursday about how long he planned to keep working. He said, 'As long as I can make a difference.' His greatest asset was his ability to be a personal friend and diplomatic interlocutor at the same time."

Abdullah Abdullah, former foreign minister of Afghanistan and former Afghan presidential candidate

"I remember him mostly as a friend, but at the same time as a diplomat. ... I have a lot of memories of him and his love and passion for our country and, of course, the pursuit of peace and American diplomacy and American interests. Achieving peace and stabilization of a country with complex realities on the ground, as well as in the region, is not an overnight task, but there was no doubt that he was pursuing his mission not only objectively, professionally and patriotically as an American, but at the same time as a friend of Afghanistan. That was what we admired most. ... The American policy will continue, nevertheless this is a loss for American diplomacy at a times when a persons of such a stature, experience and talent was needed most, especially in the wake of WikiLeaks and all that is happening."

Karl W. Eikenberry, U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan

"We learned late last night that America had suffered a great loss. Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke was a colleague, a friend to me and a champion for the people of Afghanistan. His lifetime of service to the United States and his contribution to our safety and security have been immeasurable. Throughout his long and distinguished career, Ambassador Holbrooke has been a partner of those who try to foster peace. From Vietnam to the Balkans and now to Afghanistan, he's done it by showing America's strength and by showing our compassion. Our efforts in Afghanistan lost a powerful advocate today. On behalf of my wife, Ching, and the entire U.S. Embassy, our thoughts and prayers go out to Ambassador Holbrooke's family. In Afghanistan, we will all take time in coming days to mourn his loss, pray for his family, celebrate his life and carry on the work that he devoted himself to so fiercely."

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee

"Richard Holbrooke has been a dynamic force in American diplomacy for more than five decades. His stellar service is deeply appreciated and held in the highest esteem."

Sen. John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

"This awful news is almost incomprehensible, not least of all because I cannot imagine Richard Holbrooke in anything but a state of perpetual motion. He was always working. He was always a man on a mission, the toughest mission, and that mission was waging peace through tough-as-nails, never-quit diplomacy -- and Richard's life's work saved tens of thousands of lives. We loved his energy, we loved his resolve -- that's who Richard was, and he died giving everything he had to one last difficult mission for the country he loved. It is almost a bittersweet bookend that a career of public diplomacy that began trying to save a war gone wrong, now ends with a valiant effort to keep another war from going wrong."

Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Connecticut

"Richard Holbrooke was a colossus of American diplomacy. From Vietnam to the Balkans and now Afghanistan and Pakistan, the history of our nation's foreign policy over the last forty years is inseparable from Richard's own remarkable and courageous life -- which was spent, both inside and outside government, in the distinguished service of the country he loved and in pursuit of the most noble ideals for which it stands. Richard Holbrooke has left the world far too soon, but he leaves it a far better place through his achievements."

Samuel Worthington, president of InterAction, an alliance of U.S.-based international non-governmental organizations

"The U.S. NGO community wishes to extend our sincere condolences to Ambassador Richard Holbrooke's family and to all of his colleagues at the State Department on his untimely passing. Ambassador Holbrooke was a longtime friend of the NGO community and his death was a shock to us all. He served on many non-profit boards and was deeply committed to the humanitarian values that guided the NGO response to the Pakistani floods. Ambassador Holbrooke's passing is a great loss to his colleagues, friends, family and to our country. He was a gifted diplomat, whose work over half a century made a difference in the lives of so many people, whether helping to end wars or dealing with their aftermath. His mark on history will be forever felt."

Statement posted on several radical Islamist Websites

"Regarding the stop of Holbrooke's heart, the fainting of (Gen. David) Petraeus, and the madness of (Gen. Stanley) McChrystal, the significant and useful advice to all U.S. personnel assigned to the issue regarding Afghanistan, from generals to diplomats, is to stop applying the manner of aggression and occupation, and resign from their jobs in Afghanistan, the homeland where implementing demonic plots and conspiracies cannot take place, and where its people cannot turn a blind eye to the presence of 150,000 occupied troops and cannot be fooled by Petraeus, Holbrooke and others who should know that their fate is a scandal, madness, fainting or worse than that as well."