Richard Holbrooke, one of America's most renowned diplomats, died Monday after two surgeries to repair a torn artery near his heart. He was 69.
For nearly 50 years, Holbrooke played a major role in U.S. foreign policy.
Paying homage to the veteran diplomat, President Obama called him a "giant of American foreign policy" and "a truly unique figure who will be remembered for his tireless diplomacy, love of country, and pursuit of peace."
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also praised Holbrooke, describing him as one of America's "fiercest champions and most dedicated public servants."
"Richard Holbrooke served the country he loved for nearly half a century, representing the United States in far-flung war zones and high-level peace talks, always with distinctive brilliance and unmatched determination," Clinton said.
Holbrook began his diplomatic career in Vietnam during the 1960s. Later, he served as ambassador to the United Nations and also served twice as U.S. assistant secretary of state.
Perhaps his greatest accomplishment was the role he played in negotiating the peace deal that ended the bloody Bosnian conflict in 1995.
His final role as special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, however, was arguably one of his toughest assignments.
Holbrooke warned long ago that the Afghan war would be America's longest conflict. He also said it was a necessary one.
"People who demand that the foreign troops leave Afghanistan before they talk about peace are actually asking for surrender," Holbrooke said. "Let us not be naïve about this."
Holbrooke is survived by his wife, author Kati Marton, and two sons from an earlier marriage, David Holbrooke and Anthony Holbrooke.