United States diplomat Richard Holbrooke dies
WASHINGTON: Veteran US diplomat Richard Holbrooke has died following a second round of surgery to treat a torn aorta.
He fell ill on Friday while meeting US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
He was President Barack Obama's special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan. The presidents of both nations paid tribute to him.
Mr Obama called the 69year-old, who was known for bringing warring leaders to the negotiating table, a "true giant of American foreign policy".
Mr Holbrooke was meeting Ms Clinton at the US state department on Friday morning when he collapsed.
He was rushed to the US capital's George Washington University Hospital, where he underwent surgery to repair a tear in his aorta - the largest artery in the human body, which carries oxygenated blood from the heart.
Mr Holbrooke's death comes as the Obama administration prepares to make public its latest review of US policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan later this week.
Following the news of his death, Mr Obama said: "Michelle and I are deeply saddened by the passing of Richard Holbrooke, a true giant of American foreign policy who has made America stronger, safer and more respected.
From the day he was appointed special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Mr Holbrooke played a central role shaping the policy and the inter-agency process, making sure the Pentagon, the state department and USAID were all on the same page.
His team at the state department focused heavily on developing the civilian side of the strategy, which he believed was crucial.
He was indefatigable, determined and incredibly well-informed about the details. He rubbed many people the wrong way, including Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
When he was asked in the US Congress what success would look like in Afghanistan he answered, "We'll know it when we see it."
But he was one of the first to say publicly that the US strategy in Afghanistan needed to be fixed.
His absence will be felt at the state department and around Washington, as well as in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Diplomats here say he leaves behind a strong team and a strategy that is in a "good phase".
His deputy, Frank Ruggiero, will take over in the interim. -BBC News