Henry Kissinger: Former top US diplomat dies aged 100

"Dr. Henry Kissinger, a respected American scholar and statesman, died today at his home in Connecticut," Kissinger Associates announced in a statement late on Wednesday

Henry Kissinger, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate known for his diplomatic achievements and contentious policies, died on Wednesday, aged 100.

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

He will be laid to rest in a private family service, with a public memorial service to be held later in New York City, reports said.

Fled Nazi Germany

Kissinger was born in Germany in 1923. His family moved to the United States in 1938 to flee the Nazi regime. He gained US citizenship in 1943 and served in the US Army during World War II in Europe. He went on to pursue higher education at Harvard University on a scholarship, obtaining a master’s degree in 1952 and a doctorate in 1954.

He then joined Harvard’s faculty, where he taught for 17 years.

Kissinger married Nancy Maginnes in 1974. He had two children by his first wife.

A contentious legacy

Known for his significant influence on US foreign policy as Secretary of State under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, Kissinger’s legacy is marked by his decisive role in ending the Vietnam War, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973.

Kissinger had a major role in opening US diplomatic relations with the Chinese Communist Party during the Nixon administration, and remained a popular figure in China. He also negotiated a landmark arms control agreement between the US and Soviet Union in the 1970s.

In 1973, Kissinger’s intense “shuttle diplomacy” that eased tensions between Israel and Arab countries following the 1973 Yom Kippur war earned him diplomatic plaudits across the US political spectrum.

Veteran diplomat Henry Kissinger dead at 100

However, Kissinger’s role in authorizing the US bombing of Cambodia during the Vietnam War left a mark on his legacy. The, which was intended to target troop movements supporting North Vietnam, killed thousands of civilians and helped spawn the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia.

Kissinger was also criticized for his backing for anti-communist regimes in Latin America. His approach to foreign policy faced criticism for prioritizing national interest over democratic ideals.

In 2022, when asked in an interview if he regretted any of his decisions, the former diplomat said: “I’ve been thinking about these problems all my life. It’s my hobby as well as my occupation. And so, the recommendations I made were the best of which I was then capable.”

Kissinger was involved in global politics until his final months. In July, he met Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Beijing in a surprise visit, amid tumultuous bilateral relations between the United States and China.

Tributes pour in for Kissinger

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in a social media post said Kissinger “shaped American foreign policy like few others.” Scholz commended Kissinger’s “commitment to the trans-Atlantic friendship between the USA and Germany” adding that “he always remained close to his German homeland.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said Kissinger “attached great importance to China-US relations and believed that they were vital to the peace and prosperity of the two countries and the world.”  The ministry added that President Xi Jinping sent a message of condolence to US President Joe Biden.

China’s ambassador to the US, Xie Feng, said on social media that Kissinger’s death was a “tremendous loss for both our countries and the world” adding that “history will remember what the centenarian had contributed to China-US relations.”

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Kissinger made “significant contributions” to peace and stability in Asia, “including the normalization of diplomatic ties between the US and China.”

Former President George W. Bush said the US had “lost one of the most dependable and distinctive voices on foreign affairs” while former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Kissinger was “endlessly generous with the wisdom gained over the course of an extraordinary life.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his condolences to Kissinger’s widow Nancy calling him a “wise and farsighted statesman.”


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