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US Envoy Richard Holbrooke Dies at 69

Richard Holbrooke, US special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan answers journalists' questions at a press conference at Foreign Ministry in Rome, Italy, 18 Oct 2010

Richard Holbrooke, the veteran U.S. diplomat serving as special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, died Monday at the age of 69.

Holbrooke was stricken Friday during a meeting at the State Department with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He was rushed to a Washington, DC hospital where he underwent a 20-hour operation to repair a tear in the aorta, the large artery that moves blood from the heart to the rest of the body.

That was followed by another operation on Sunday.

Late Monday, President Barack Obama issued a statement saying he is "deeply saddened" by Holbrooke's passing. He called the veteran diplomat a "true giant of American foreign policy" who made his country "stronger, safer and more respected."

Earlier in the day, Secretary Clinton said there had been an "outpouring of support" from around the world for the diplomat who she said had given nearly 50 years of his life to serving the United States.

Among those who called were the president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari.

Among Holbrooke's major accomplishments was playing an instrumental role in negotiating the Dayton Peace Accords that brought peace to Bosnia-Herzegovina. Those accords, which were signed on December 14, 1995 by Serbian, Bosnian and Croat leaders, ended a vicious ethnic conflict that claimed 100,000 lives.