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Henry Kissinger, the former US secretary of state and national security adviser who helped open up relations with China, usher in a detente with the Soviet Union and end America’s war in Vietnam, has died aged 100.
Kissinger’s death at his home in Connecticut was confirmed by Kissinger Associates, his consultancy, in a statement on Wednesday night, describing him as a “respected American scholar and statesman”.
Born in Germany, he fled the Nazi regime before the second world war, then became a US citizen and enlisted in the army during the conflict. After the war he turned to academia, teaching international relations for two decades at Harvard University.
Kissinger’s stints in government came during the 1970s, when he served under Republican presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, at a time when Cold War rivalries were evolving and geoeconomic tensions, including a big oil price shock, were consuming US foreign relations.
Kissinger Associates noted that his influence on world affairs continued well past his days in the White House — saying Kissinger was “regularly consulted by American presidents of both political parties and scores of foreign leaders after he finished government service in 1977”.
One of the earliest tributes after his death came from Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City. “Nobody in our country exercised more influence over global affairs over a longer period of time than Henry Kissinger, and his death is a loss for our country and the world — and for all of us who were fortunate enough to call him a dear friend and mentor,” Bloomberg wrote on X.
While Kissinger’s push for more productive dialogue with China and the then Soviet Union set the stage for a less tense phase of the cold war, he drew fierce criticism for adopting positions and taking actions that he deemed to be in US interests even if it meant supporting dictators and violating human rights around the world.