14 Dec 2010

US envoy Richard Holbrooke dies

9:38 pm on 14 December 2010

Richard Holbrooke, US president Barack Obama's special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, has died. He was 69.

The veteran diplomat brokered the 1995 peace agreement that ended the Bosnian war and was a key player in Mr Obama's efforts to turn around the nine-year war in Afghanistan.

He also served as the US ambassador to the United Nations and to Germany and twice was assistant secretary of state.

Mr Holbrooke collapsed at work at the State Department on Friday and underwent two heart operations after it was discovered he had a tear in his aorta, but died on Monday.

He was once called "Washington's favourite last-ditch diplomat" and "America's toughest diplomatic tactician" by Time magazine and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize seven times.

He joined Obama's administration in 2009 as special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan and also served under presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, the BBC reports.

Mr Holbrooke was tipped more than once as a possible Secretary of State and admired for his razor-sharp analysis and as a dedicated diplomat who did not shun difficult challenges.

His deputy, Frank Ruggiero, is expected to stand in for him in the interim.