Richard Holbrooke: A consummate diplomat

2010-12-14 08:29

Dec 13 - Richard Holbrooke, the veteran US diplomat who negotiated the 1995 accord that ended the Balkans war and was US President Barack Obama's special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, died on Monday at age 69.

World leaders, colleagues, friends and analysts remembered Holbrooke as a giant of American foreign policy. Here are some of their statements.

US President Barack Obama:

"Tonight, there are millions of people around the world whose lives have been saved and enriched by his work. As I said earlier this evening, the United States is safer and the world is more secure because of the half century of patriotic service of Ambassador Richard Holbrooke."

Siyamak Herawi, Spokesperson for Afghan President Hamid Karzai:

"We are saddened by his death, it is a big loss. He had done great services for Afghanistan."

Vice-President Joe Biden:

"Today, I lost a great friend and America lost one of its greatest warriors for peace. ... He was a tireless negotiator, a relentless advocate for American interests, and the most talented diplomat we've had in a generation."

US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton:

"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."

Senator John Kerry, Chairperson of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee:

"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.

Rrepresentative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Senior Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee:

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

Former US 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."

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair:

"He was a remarkable man, a remarkable public servant and someone who contributed enormously to the cause of a more peaceful and just world. He will be deeply mourned by many people in many different nations."

Hasan Askari Rizvi, Independent political analyst in Islamabad:

"On the one hand he was seen as a task-oriented chap, and on the other hand, he sympathised with Pakistani problems, like displaced persons because of the war on terror. Also in the flood situation, he took a personal interest. So his exit from the scene will be seen as a loss of a friend.

So far as Pakistan-Afghanistan-US diplomacy is concerned, there will be a brief gap because the US will have to find a person who has relations to the extent that Holbrooke had developed."

Michael Cohen, Senior fellow at American Security Project:

"Holbrooke was perhaps the finest diplomat of his generation and it would be unfair to judge him solely by his efforts in Afghanistan. In fact, I think the tragedy of his last posting was that he wasn't fully given the opportunity to use his prodigious talents to spearhead a diplomatic initiative in Afghanistan."

Vanda Felbab-Brown, Analyst at Brookings Institution:

"As very sad as Richard Holbrooke's passing is, the role of the SRAP (Special Representative Afghanistan, Pakistan) is an important one. It is important to appoint into the position someone who can redevelop a good, or at least, working relationship between the United States and the international community on the one hand and President (Hamid) Karzai on the other. And there continues to be an important need for working the regional relationships - with Pakistan and more broadly."