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US diplomat Richard Holbrooke dies

The long-serving diplomat who brokered Bosnian peace deal died on Monday aged 69.

The long-serving US diplomat Richard Holbrooke died on Monday following unsuccessful heart surgery to his damaged main aorta.

He collapsed on Friday morning during a meeting with US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, before being rushed to George Washington University Hospital. He was admitted immediately for surgery to repair a tear in his main aorta.

"True to form, Richard was a fighter to the end," said Clinton. His tenacious and relentless attitude towards reaching suitable peaceful arrangements in some of the most war torn nations across the globe had earned him the nickname of "The bulldozer".

"His doctors marveled at his strength and his willpower," she added. "He was one of a kind - a true statesman - and that makes his passing all the more painful."

The 69-year old was described by President Barack Obama as "a true giant of American foreign policy."

"He was a truly unique figure who will be remembered for his tireless diplomacy, love of country, and pursuit of peace," said President Obama.

Holbrooke served as a diplomat for just short of 50 years, serving under every Democrat US president from J F Kennedy to Barack Obama. His notable achievements included pioneering the Dayton agreement in 1995, which ended the conflict in Bosnia. In 1998 he negotiated with Yugoslav President Milosevic to withdraw his forces from Kosovo, where they were conducting an ethnic cleansing campaign. He has also played a role in the effort to help African refugees and fight AIDS in Africa.

In 2009, Holbrooke was named Obama's special representative for issues in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and undertook the crucial task of encouraging Kabul and Islamabad to coordinate themselves in the fight against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Mr Holbrooke was "an experienced and skilled diplomat of American politics who during his service served greatly the American people".

Holbrooke did not think that his unforgiving task in Afghanistan was futile. "If you can prevent the deaths of people still alive, you're not doing a disservice to those already killed by trying to do so." Holbrooke is survived by his wife Kati Marton and two sons.