Former United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who played a crucial and sometimes contentious role in the country’s foreign policy in the 1970s, died on Wednesday, the BBC reported. He was 100 years old.
Kissinger Associates, a political consulting firm that he set up, stated that he died at his home in Connecticut.
The United States’ top diplomats during the administrations led by former Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, Kissinger played a key role in opening up diplomatic relations between the United States and China during the Cold War. He was also key in facilitating arms control talks with the Soviet Union during the Cold War and drawing up the Paris Peace Accords in 1973 to end the Vietnam War.
However, the former diplomat also faced severe criticism in connection with allegations that he oversaw a secret bombing campaign in Cambodia in 1969 and 1970 that left hundreds of thousands dead and that he did not act to prevent large-scale violence by the Pakistani Army in East Pakistan, now Bangladesh.
Kissinger’s critics accused him of placing the US rivalry with the erstwhile Soviet Union ahead of human rights and propping repressive regimes around the world, including that of Augusto Pinochet in Chile.
In 1973, he was awarded the Nobel Prize jointly with North Vietnam’s Le Duc Tho, who declined it on the grounds that peace had not yet been established in South Vietnam.
Kissinger remained active in his old age, co-authoring a book on artificial intelligence at the age of 98 with former Google Chief Executive Officer Eric Schmidt and Massachusetts Institute of Technology computer scientist Daniel Huttenlocher.
In July, Kissinger made a surprise visit to China, where he met President Xi Jinping. The United States, however, said that he visited the country in his private capacity.
On Wednesday, former United States President George W Bush said that the United States “lost one of the most dependable and distinctive voices on foreign affairs”.