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Former United States secretary of state Henry Kissinger has died

Former United States secretary of state Henry Kissinger has died aged 100.

He passed away at his home in Connecticut on Wednesday, according to a statement from Kissinger Associates Inc.

The veteran politician had major influence on American foreign policy under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.

Born in Germany in 1923, Mr Kissinger fled the Nazi regime with his family as a teenager and settled in the US in 1938.

During eight years as a national security adviser and secretary of state, Dr Kissinger was involved in major foreign policy events including the first example of “shuttle diplomacy” seeking peace in the Middle East, secret negotiations with China to defrost relations between the burgeoning superpowers and the instigation of the Paris peace talks seeking an end to the Vietnam conflict.

Mr Kissinger with President Gerald Ford and Chairman Mao Zedong in Beijing in 1975
Image:
Dr Kissinger with President Gerald Ford and Chairman Mao Zedong in Beijing in 1975

In 1973 he was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to negotiate an end to the Vietnam War.

However, Dr Kissinger, along with President Nixon, also bore the brunt of criticism from the US’s allies following the fall of Saigon to North Vietnamese forces in 1975 as the remaining US personnel fled what is now known as Ho Chi Minh City.

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His influence over US diplomacy – which continued long after he left office – has not been without controversy, and some activists called for him to be prosecuted for war crimes.

He remained active in politics, even after his 100th birthday in May, attending meetings in the White House, publishing a book on leadership styles, and testifying before a Senate committee about the nuclear threat posed by North Korea.

Henry Kissinger with Richard Nixon and Israeli prime minister Golda Meir
Image:
Henry Kissinger with Richard Nixon and Israeli prime minister Golda Meir

In July 2023 he made a surprise visit to Beijing to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping.

During his early life, after becoming a naturalised US citizen in 1943, Dr Kissinger joined the US Army the same year and was awarded a Bronze Star.

He would go on to serve with US counter intelligence in occupied Germany.

Dr Kissinger earned his bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD degrees at Harvard University, where he taught international relations for almost 20 years before President Nixon appointed him national security advisor in 1969.

Henry Kissinger with Richard Nixon and Israeli prime minister Golda Meir
Image:
Henry Kissinger with Richard Nixon and Israeli prime minister Golda Meir

He is survived by his wife of nearly 50 years, Nancy Maginnes Kissinger, two children by his first marriage, David and Elizabeth, and five grandchildren.

According to the statement from Kissinger Associates: “He will be interred at a private family service. At a later date, there will be a memorial service in New York City.”

Senator and former presidential candidate Mitt Romney paid tribute to Dr Kissinger on X describing him as a “great one” and saying: “Fortunate indeed is America for his lifetime of diplomacy, wisdom, and love of freedom.”

Winston Lord, former US ambassador to China and Dr Kissinger’s one time special assistant said: “The world has lost a tireless advocate for peace.

“America has lost a towering champion for the national interest. I have lost a cherished friend and mentor.

“Henry blended the European sense of tragedy and the American immigrant’s sense of hope.”

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