Former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger dies aged 100

Former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger dies aged 100

Henry Kissinger, the US secretary of state who dominated foreign policy under former presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, has died aged 100, his consulting firm Kissinger Associates said.

The firm said in a statement Mr Kissinger died at his home in Connecticut and is survived by his wife Nancy, two children, David and Elizabeth and his five grandchildren.

Mr Kissinger was born in southern Germany in 1923 before he fled Nazi Germany to the US in 1938.

In 1969, he was appointed as national security adviser in the US, before serving as the secretary of state under Mr Nixon and Mr Ford, the statement said.

Mr Kissinger wrote 21 books on national security and was a regular consultant to American presidents of both political parties and foreign leaders after he finished government service in 1977. He turned 100 in May.

Former US president George W Bush paid tribute, saying in a statement he and his wife Laura will miss Mr Kissinger’s “wisdom, his charm and his humour”.

“America has lost one of the most dependable and distinctive voices on foreign affairs with the passing of Henry Kissinger,” Mr Bush said.

“I am grateful for that service and advice, but I am most grateful for his friendship.”

Mr Kissinger made numerous visits to the UK.

He dined with Diana, Princess of Wales and had breakfast with Margaret Thatcher.

He spoke highly of both women – describing the late princess as someone who “desperately wanted to make a difference in this world”, and praising Mrs Thatcher as “one of the great figures of modern times”.

During his time in office in the 1970s and in the decades after, he met British politicians and members of the royal family, including the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh.

As secretary of state he had a breakfast meeting with then Opposition leader Mrs Thatcher at Claridge’s Hotel.

Years later, after she was forced out of office by an internal Conservative Party coup, having served as Britain’s first female Prime Minister, Mr Kissinger lamented her treatment, saying her fall from power was “worse than a death in the family”.

Government files, released by the National Archives in Kew, west London in 2016, showed that among the first to respond to the events of November 1990 was Mr Kissinger.

He telephoned Charles Powell, Mrs Thatcher’s trusted foreign affairs adviser, in a “very emotional state” on learning the news.

In a note to the former PM recounting their conversation, Mr Powell said Mr Kissinger had told him: “It was worse than a death in the family.

“You were one of the great figures of modern times and nobody outside Britain – indeed nobody outside Westminster – could understand how your fellow Conservatives could have done this.”

Mr Kissinger attended the funerals of both Lady Thatcher in 2013, and Diana in 1997.

Following the princess’s death, he said: “I knew her as a very sensitive, at times very amusing lady, who desperately wanted to make a difference in this world.”

He had lunched with her in New York just a few months before, and two years previously had presented her with a humanitarian of the year award in recognition of her work for charity, in particular for her efforts on behalf of children.

Despite being well into his 90s, in 2019 he attended a service of thanksgiving in London for the life and work of former foreign secretary Lord Carrington, arriving in a wheelchair.

A visit to London some years previously had sparked protests by anti-war demonstrators.

A huge puppet figure of him was erected outside the Royal Albert Hall by the Get Kissinger Group, which planned to hold a mock trial accusing him of being a war criminal because of his involvement in events in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

In a speech during that visit in 2002, he admitted it was “quite possible” mistakes were made in administrations in which he served.

But he told an audience of British business leaders at the Institute of Directors’ annual convention that the issue was whether courts were the right place to determine what had happened.

Shortly before the event, human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell lost a legal bid to have Mr Kissinger arrested under the Geneva Convention.

Published: by Radio NewsHub

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