Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger dies aged 100

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Henry Kissinger at the State Department’s 230th anniversary celebrations in 2019.
By Bernd Debusmann Jr
BBC News, Washington

Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has died at the age of 100.

He served as America’s top diplomat and national security adviser during the Nixon and Ford administrations.

In a statement, Kissinger Associates, a political consulting firm he founded, said the German-born former diplomat died at his home in Connecticut.

During his decades-long career, Mr Kissinger played a pivotal, and sometimes controversial, role in US foreign policy.

The statement from Kissinger Associates did not give a cause of death.

Born in Germany in 1923, Kissinger first came to the US in 1938 when his family fled Nazi Germany.

He became a US citizen in 1943 and went on to serve three years in the US Army and later in the Counter Intelligence Corps.

After earning bachelor’s, master’s and PhD degrees, he taught international relations at Harvard.

In 1969, then-President Richard Nixon appointed him National Security Adviser, a position which gave him enormous influence over US foreign policy.

As secretary of state during the Nixon administration – and later under President Gerald Ford – Mr Kissinger led diplomatic efforts towards China, helped negotiate an end to the 1973 Yom Kippur War between Israel and its neighbours and was instrumental in the Paris Peace Accords that ended the Vietnam War.

Over the years, however, Kissinger was also subject to scathing criticism from those who accused him of putting rivalry with the Soviet Union over human rights and supporting repressive regimes across the world, including Augusto Pinochet’s regime in Chile.

In 1973, he was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize alongside North Vietnam’s Le Duc Tho, who refused to accept.

The controversial award led to two members of the Nobel committee resigning.

While Kissinger left government service in 1977, he continued to be a prolific commentator on public affairs. His counsel was often sought by US presidents and lawmakers.

He also served on the boards of various companies and was a fixture of foreign policy and security forums, as well as penning 21 books.

Kissinger turned 100 years old in May and continued to be active even late in life, including a surprise visit to Beijing to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping in July.

He is survived by his wife of nearly 50 years, as well as by two children from a previous marriage and five grandchildren.

Winston Lord, a former US ambassador to China and Kissinger’s former special assistant at the White House National Security Council, said in a statement that “the world has lost a tireless advocate for peace”.

“America has lost a towering champion for national interest,” Mr Lord was quoted as saying by Reuters.

“During more than seven decades, he transformed America’s role in the world, held the nation together during a constitutional crisis, crafted visionary volumes, counseled world leaders, and enriched the national and international discourse,” Mr Lord added.